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Doctor of Medicine 
Deputy-Attorney-General at the Court of Appeal, Bordeaux, France 


Member of the Academy of Medicine 

Professor of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine, Paris 


Also with a New Chapter containing 
'a complex case,' by professor RICHET 


'some recently observed phenomena' 






The Translator has to thank sincerely a literary 
friend, a well-known English clergyman, who has 
been kind enough to revise the translation, and 
suggest many improvements. 


Asked by my friends in France to introduce the author, 
Dr. Maxwell, to English readers, I willingly consented, 
for I have reason to know that he is an earnest and 
indefatigable student of the phenomena for the investiga- 
tion of which the Society for Psychical Research was 
constituted ; and not only an earnest student, but a sane 
and competent observer, with rather special qualifications 
for the task. A gentleman of independent means, 
trained and practising as a lawyer at Bordeaux, Deputy 
Attorney-General, in fact, at the Court of Appeal, he 
supplemented his legal training by going through a full 
six years' medical curriculum, and graduated M.D. in 
order to pursue psycho-physiological studies with more 
freedom, and to be able to form a sounder and more 
instructed judgment on the strange phenomena which 
came under his notice. Moreover, he was fortunate in 
enlisting the services of one who appears to be singularly 
gifted in the supernormal direction, an educated and 
interested friend, who is anxious to preserve his anony- 
mity, but is otherwise willing to give every assistance 
in his power towards the production and elucidation of 
the unusual things which occur in his presence and 
apparently through his agency. 


In all this they have been powerfully assisted by 
Professor Charles Richet, the distinguished physiologist 
of Paris, whose name and fame are almost as well known 
in this country as in his own, and who gave the special 
evening lecture to the British Association on the occa- 
sion of its semi-international meeting at Dover in 1899. 

In France it so happens that these problems have been 
attacked chiefly by biologists and medical men, whereas 
in this country they have attracted the attention chiefly, 
though not exclusively, of physicists and chemists among 
men of science. This gives a desirable diversity to the 
point of view, and adds to the value of the work of the 
French investigators. Another advantage they possess 
is that they have no arriere-pensee towards religion or 
the spiritual world. Frankly, I expect they would con- 
fess themselves materialists, and would disclaim all sym- 
pathy with the view of a number of enthusiasts in this 
country, who have sought to make these ill-understood 
facts the basis for a kind of religious cult in which faith 
is regarded as more important than knowledge, and who 
contemn the attitude of scientific men, even of those 
few who really seek to observe and understand the 

From Dr. Maxwell's observations, so far, there arises 
no theory which he feels to be in the least satisfactory : 
the facts are recorded as observed, and though theoretical 
comments are sometimes attempted in the text, they are 
admittedly tentative and inadequate : we know nothing 
at present which will suffice to weld the whole together 


into a comprehensive and comprehensible scheme. But 
for the theoretical discussion of such phenomena the 
work of Mr. Myers on Human Personality is of course 
far more thorough and ambitious than the semi-popular 
treatment in the present book. And in the matter of 
history also, the English reader, familiar with the writ- 
ings of Mr. Andrew Lang and Mr. Podmore, will not 
attribute much importance to the few historical remarks 
of the present writer. He claims consideration as an 
observer of exceptional ability and scrupulous fairness, 
and his work is regarded with the greatest interest by 
workers in this field throughout the world. 

There is one thing which Dr. Maxwell does not do. 
He does not record his facts according to the standard 
set up by the Society for Psychical Research in this 
country : that is to say, he does not give a minute 
account of all the details, nor does he relate the precau- 
tions taken, nor seek to convince hostile critics that he 
has overlooked no possibility, and made no mistakes. 
Discouraged by previous attempts and failures in this 
direction, he has regarded the task as impossible, and 
has not attempted it. He has satisfied himself with 
three things : — 

I St. To train himself long and carefully as an 
observer ; 

2nd. To learn from, and be guided by, the pheno- 
mena as they occur, without seeking unduly 
to coerce them ; 


3rd. To give a general account of the impression 
made upon him by the facts as they ap- 

For the rest, he professes himself indifferent whether 
his assertions meet with credence or not. He has done 
his best to test the phenomena for himself, regarding 
them critically, and not at all in a spirit of credulity ; 
and he has endangered his reputation by undertaking 
what he regards as a plain duty, that of setting down 
under his own name, for the world to accept or reject as 
it pleases, a statement of the experiences to which he has 
devoted so much time and attention, and of the actuality 
of which, though he in no way professes to understand 
them, he is profoundly convinced. 

Equally convinced of their occurrence is Professor 
Richet, who has had an opportunity of observing many 
of them, and he too regards them from the same untheo- 
retical and empirical point of view ; but he has explained 
his own attitude in a Preface to the French edition, as 
Dr. Maxwell has explained his in ' Preliminary Remarks,' 
— both of which are here translated — so there is no need 
to say more ; beyond this : — 

The particular series of occurrences detailed in these 
pages I myself have not witnessed. I may take an 
opportunity of seeing them before long ; but though 
that will increase my experience, it will not increase my 
conviction that things like some of these can and do 
occur, and that any other patient explorer who had the 


same advantages and similar opportunity for observation, 
would undergo the same sort of experience, that is to 
say, would receive the same sensory impressions, however 
he might choose to interpret them. 

That is what the scientific world has gradually to 
grow accustomed to. These things happen under 
certain conditions, in the same sense that more familiar 
things happen under ordinary conditions. What the 
conditions are that determine the happening is for future 
theory to say. 

Dr. Maxwell is convinced that such things can happen 
without anything that can with any propriety whatever 
be called fraud ; sometimes under conditions so favour- 
able for observation as to preclude the possibility of 
deception of any kind. Some of them, as we know 
well, do also frequently harppen under fraudulent and 
semi-fraudulent conditions ; but those who take the 
easy line of assuming that hyper-ingenious fraud and 
extravagant self-deception are sufficient to account for 
the whole of the facts, will ultimately, I think, find 
themselves to have been deceived by their own a priori 
convictions. Nevertheless we may agree that at present 
the Territory under exploration is not yet a scientific 
State. We are in the pre- Newtonian, possibly the 
pre-Copernican, age of this nascent science ; and it is 
our duty to accumulate facts and carefully record them, 
for a future Kepler to brood over. 

What may be likened to the ' Ptolemaic ' view of the 
phenomena seems on the whole to be favoured by the 


French observers, viz. that they all centre round living 
man, and represent an unexpected extension of human 
faculty, an extension, as it were, of the motor and 
sensory power of the body beyond its apparent boundary. 
That is undoubtedly the first adit to be explored, and it 
may turn out to lead us in the right direction ; but it 
is premature even to guess what will be the ultimate 
outcome of this extra branch of psychological and 
physiological study. That sensory perception can extend 
to things out of contact with the body is familiar enough, 
though it has not been recognised for the senses of touch 
or taste. That motor activity should also extend into 
a region beyond the customary range of muscular action 
is, as yet, unrecognised by science. Nevertheless that is 
the appearance. 

The phenomena which have most attracted the 
attention and maintained the interest of the French 
observers, have been just those which convey the above 
impression : that is to say, mechanical movements with- 
out contact, production of intelligent noises, and either 
visible, tangible, or luminous appearances which do not 
seem to be hallucinatory. These constantly-asserted, 
and in a sense well-known, and to some few people 
almost familiar, experiences, have with us hQcn usually 
spoken of as ' physical or psycho-physical phenomena.' 
In France they have been called ' psychical phenomena,' 
but that name is evidently not satisfactory, since that 
should apply to purely mental experiences. To call 
them 'occult phenomena' is not distinctive, for every- 


thing is occult until it is explained ; and the business of 
science is to contemplate the mixed mass of hetero- 
geneous appearances, such as at one time formed all 
that was known of Chemistry, for instance, or Electricity, 
and evolve from them an ordered scheme of science. 

To emphasise the fact that these occurrences are at 
present beyond the scheme of orthodox psychology or 
psycho-physiology, in somewhat the same way as the 
germ of what we now call Metaphysics was once placed 
after, or considered as extra to, the course of orthodox 
Natural Philosophy or Physics, Professor Richet has 
suggested that they be styled 'meta-psychical phenomena,' 
and that the nascent branch of science, which he and 
other pioneers are endeavouring to found, be called for 
the present ' Metapsychics.' Dr. Maxwell concurs in this 
•comparatively novel term, and as there seems no serious 
•objection to it, the English version of Dr. Maxwell's 
record will appear under this title. 

The book will be found for the most part eminently 
readable — rather an unusual circumstance for a record of 
this kind — and the scrupulous fairness with which the 
author has related everything he can think of which tells 
against the genuineness of the phenomena, is highly to be 
commended. Whatever may be thought of the evidence 
it is manifestly his earnest wish never to make it appear 
to others better than it appears to himself. 

If critics attack the book, as they undoubtedly will, 
with the objection that though it may contain a mass 
of well-attested assertions by a competent and careful 


observer, yet his observations are set down without the 
necessary details on which an outside critic can judge 
how far the things really happened, and how far the 
observer was deceived — let it be remembered that this is 
admitted. Dr. Maxwell's defence is, that to give such 
details as will satisfy a hostile critic who was not actually 
present is impossible — in that I am disposed to agree 
with him — he has therefore not attempted the task ; 
and I admit, though I cannot commend, his discretion. 

It may be said that the attempt to give every detail 
necessarily produces a dreary and overburdened narrative. 
So it does. Nevertheless I must urge — as both in accord- 
ance with my own judgment of what is fitting, and in 
loyalty to the high standard of evidence, and the more 
stringent rules of testimony, inaugurated by the wise 
founders of the Society for Psychical Research — that 
observers should always make an effort to record pre- 
cisely every detail of the circumstances of some at least 
of these elusive and rare phenomena ; so as to assist in 
enabling a fair judgment to be formed by people who 
are not too inexperienced in the conditions attending this 
class of observation, and at any rate to add to the clear- 
ness of their apprehension of the events recorded. The 
opportunities for research are not yet ended, however,, 
and I may be allowed to express a hope that in the 
future something of this kind will yet be done, when 
the occasion is favourable, after a study of such a record 
as that of the Sidgwick-Hodgson-Davy experiments in 
the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. iv. 


Our gratitude to Dr. Maxwell would thus be still further 

And now, finally, I must not be understood as making 
myself responsible for the contents of the book, nor for 
the interjected remarks, nor for the translation. The 
author and translator must bear their own responsibility. 
My share in the work is limited to expressing my con- 
fidence in the good faith of Dr. Maxwell — in his 
impartiality and competence, — and while congratulating 
him on the favourable opportunities for investigation 
which have fallen to his lot, to thank him, on behalf 
of English investigators, for the single-minded perti- 
nacity and strenuous devotion with which he has pursued 
this difficult and still nebulous quest. 

Oliver Lodge. 


There are books in which the author says so clearly 
and in such precise terms what he has to say that 
any commentary weakens their import ; and a preface 
becomes superfluous, sometimes even prejudicial. 

Dr. Maxwell's work belongs to this category. The 
author, who has long given himself up to psychology, 
has had the opportunity of seeing many interesting 
things. He has observed everything with minute care ; 
and having well thought out the method of observation, 
the consequences, and the nature itself of the phenomena, 
he lays bare his facts and deducts therefrom a few simple 
ideas, fearlessly, honestly, sine ira nee studio^ before a 
public which he hopes to find impartial. 

To this same public I address the short introduction, 
with which my friend Dr. Maxwell kindly asked me 
to head this excellent work. 

My advice to the reader may be summed up in a few 
words. He must take up this book without prejudice. 
He must fear neither that which is new, nor that which 
is unexpected. In other words, while preserving the 
most scrupulous respect for the science of to-day, he 
must be thoroughly convinced that this science, whatever 


measure of truth it may contain, is nevertheless terribly 

Those imprudent people who busy themselves with 
* occult ' sciences are accused of overthrowing Science, 
of destroying that bulwark which thousands of toilers, 
at the cost of an immense universal effort, have been 
occupied in constructing during the last three or four 

This reproach seems to me rather unjust. No one 
is able to destroy a scientific/^*:/. 

An electric current decomposes water into one 
volume of oxygen and two of hydrogen. This is a 
fact which will be true in the eternal future, just as it 
has been true in the eternal past. Ideas may perhaps 
change on what it is expedient to call electric current, 
oxygen, hydrogen, etc. It may be discovered that 
hydrogen is composed of fifty diflFerent bodies, that 
oxygen is transformed into hydrogen, that the electric 
current is a ponderable force or a luminous emission. 
No matter what is going to be discovered, we shall 
never, in any case, prevent what we call to-day an 
electric current from transforming, under certain con- 
ditions of combined pressure and temperature, what 
we call water into two gases, each having different 
properties, gases which are emitted in volumetrical 
proportions of 2 to i . 

Therefore, there need be no fear, that the invasion 
of a new science into the old will upset acquired data, 
and contradict what has been established by savants. 


Consequently psychical phenomena, however compli- 
cated, unforeseen, or appalling we may now and then 
imagine them to be, will not subvert any of those facts 
which form part of to-day's classical sciences. 

Astronomy and physiology, physics and mathematics, 
chemistry and zoology, need not be afraid. They 
are intangible, and nothing will injure the imposing 
assemblage of incontestable facts which constitute them. 

But notions, hitherto unknown, may be introduced, 
which, without casting doubts upon pristine truths, 
may cause new ones to enter their domain, and change, 
or even upset, our established notions of things. 

The facts may be unforeseen, but they will never 
be contradictory. 

The history of sciences teaches us, that their bulwarks 
have never been overthrown by the inroad of a new 

At one time no notion of tubercular infection existed. 
We now know that it is transmitted by microbes. 
This is a new notion, teeming with important con- 
clusions, but it does not invalidate the clinical table 
of pulmonary phthisis drawn up by physicians of 
other days. The discovery of Hertzian waves has in 
nowise shaken Ampere's laws. Newton's and Fresnel's 
optics have not been changed into a tissue of errors 
because Roentgen rays and luminous vibrations are able 
to penetrate opaque bodies. It appears that radium 
can throw out unremittingly, without any appreciable 

chemical molecular phenomena, great quantities of 



calorific energy ; nevertheless, we may be quite sure, 
that the law of conservation of energy and thermo- 
dynamic principles will remain as true now as ever. 

Likewise, if the facts called ' occult ' become estab- 
lished, as seems more and more probable, we need not 
feel anxious as to the fate of classical science. New 
and unknown facts, however strange they may be, will 
not do away with old established facts. 

To take an example from Dr. Maxwell's work, let us 
admit that the phenomenon of raps — that is to say, 
sonorous vibrations in wood or other substances — is 
a real phenomenon, and that, in certain cases, there 
are sounds which no mechanical force known to us 
can explain, would the science of physics be over- 
thrown .^ It would be a new force thrown out on to 
wood, etc., exercising its power on matter, but the 
old forces would none the less preserve their activity, 
and it is even likely that the transmission of vibrations 
by means of this new force would be found to be in 
obedience to the same laws as those governing the 
transmission of other vibrations ; — the temperature, the 
pressure, the density of air or wood would continue 
to exercise their usual influence. There would be 
nothing new, save the existence of a force until then 

Now, is there any savant worthy of the name who 
can affirm, that there are no forces, hitherto unknown, 
at work in the world ^ 

However impregnable Science may be when establish- 



ing facts, it is miserably subject to error when claiming 
to establish negations. 

Here is a dilemma, which appears to me to be very- 
conclusive in that respect : — Either we know all Nature's 
forces, or we do not. Now the first alternative is so 
ridiculous, that it is really not worth while refuting 
it. Our senses are so limited, so imperfect, that the 
world slips away from them almost entirely. We may 
say it is owing to an accident, that the magnet's colossal 
force was discovered, and if hazard had not placed iron 
beside the loadstone, we might have always remained 
ignorant of the attraction which loadstone exercises 
upon iron. Ten years ago no one suspected the exist- 
ence of the Roentgen rays. Before photography, no 
one knew that light reduces salts of silver. It is 
not twenty years since the Hertzian waves were dis- 
covered. The property displayed by amber when 
rubbed was, until two hundred years ago, all that was 
known of that immense force called electricity. 

Question a savage — nay a fellah or a moujik — upon 
the forces of Nature ! He will not know even the tenth 
part of such forces as elementary treatises on physics in 
1905 will enumerate. It appears to me that the savants 
of to-day, in respect to the savants of the future, stand in 
the same inferiority as the moujiks to the professors of 
the college of France. 

Who then dare be so rash as to say that the treatises 
on physics in 2005 will but repeat what is to be found 
in the treatises of 1905 ? The probability — the certainty, 


one might say — is that new scientific data will shortly 
spring up out of the darkness, and that most powerful 
and altogether unknown forces will be revealed. Our 
great-grandchildren will be amazed at the blindness 
of our savants, who tacitly profess the immobility of 

If science has made such progress of late, it is pre- 
cisely because our predecessors were not afraid to make 
bold hypotheses, to suppose new forces, demonstrating 
their reality by dint of patience and perseverance. Our 
strict duty is to do likewise. The savant should be a 
revolutionist, and fortunately the time is over when 
truth had to be sought in a master's book — magister dixit 
— be he Aristotle or Plato. In politics we may be 
conservative or progressive ; it is a question of tem- 
perament. But when the research of truth is concerned 
we must be resolutely and unreservedly revolutionary, 
and must consider classical theories — even those which 
appear to be the most solid — as temporary hypotheses, 
which we must incessantly check and incessantly strive to 
overthrow. The Chinese believed that science had been 
fixed by their ancestors' sapience ; this example contains 
food for meditation. 

Moreover — and why not proclaim it loudly — all that 
science of which we are so proud, is only knowledge of 
appearances. The real nature of things bafiles us. The 
innermost nature of laws governing matter, whether 
living or inert, is inaccessible to our intelligence. A 
stone tossed up into the air falls back again to the earth. 


Why ? Newton says through attraction proportional to 
bulk and distance. But this law is only the statement of 
a fact ; who understands that attractive vibration, which 
makes the stone fall ? The fall of a stone is such a 
commonplace phenomenon, that it does not astonish us : 
but in reality no human intelligence has ever understood 
it. It is usual, common, accepted ; but like all Nature's 
phenomena without exception it is not understood. After 
fecundation an egg becomes an embryon ; we describe 
as well as we can the phases of this phenomenon ; but, 
in spite of the most minute descriptions, have we under- 
stood the evolution of that cellular protoplasm, which is 
transformed into a huge, living being .'' What prodigy 
is at work in these segmentations? Why do these 
granulations crowd together there? Why do they 
decay here to form again elsewhere ? 

We live in the midst of phenomena and have no 
adequate knowledge of any one of them. Even the 
simplest phenomenon is most mysterious. What does 
the combination of hydrogen with oxygen mean ? Who 
has even once been thoroughly able to understand that 
word combination, annihilation of the properties of two 
bodies by the creation of a third body differing from 
the two first. How are we to understand that an atom 
is indivisible ; it is constituted of a particle of matter, 
yet — even in thought — it cannot be divided ! 

Therefore it behoves the true savant to be very 
modest, yet very bold at the same time : very modest, 
for our science is a mere trifle — 'H avOpojmvr) ao^ia 


oKiyov TLvos d^id iaTL, kol ouSei/os — very bold, for the 
vast regions of worlds unknown lie open before him. 

Audacity and prudence : such are the two qualities, in 
no wise contradictory, of Dr. Maxwell's book. 

Whatever be the fate in store for his ideas — ideas 
based upon facts — we may rest assured that the facts, 
which he has well observed, will remain, I think I see 
here the lineaments of a new science — though only a 
crude sketch so far. 

Who knows but that physiology and physics may find 
herein some precious elements of knowledge? Woe to 
the savants who think that the book of Nature is closed, 
and that we puny men have nothing more to learn. 

Charles Richet. 








I. Material Conditions, . . . . . , 33 

II. Composition of the Circle, ..... 42 
m. Methods of Operation, ..... 48 
IV. The Personification, ...... 64 

II. RAPS, 72 


I. Parakinesis, ....... 93 

II. Telekinesis, ....... 98 


.MENA : 

I. Sensory Automatism, . . . . . i8i 

II. Crystal Gazing, . . . . . . 184 

III. Dreams, Telepathy, ...... 205 


IV. Telsesthesia, . . . . . 

V. A Complex Case by Professor Richet, 

VI. Motor Automatism, . . . . 

VII. Automatic Writing, . . . . 

VIII. Phonetic and Mixed Automatisms, 

IX. The Psychology of Automatism, 

21 I 


MENA. By L. I. Finch, 


I. Fraud, 
II. Error, 






I HESITATED for a loiig time before deciding to publish 
the impressions which ten years of psychical research 
have left me. These impressions are so uncertain upon 
several points, that I wondered if it were worth while 
expressing in book form the few and sparse conclusions 
I am able to formulate. If, finally, I decide to publish 
my opinions, it is because it seems incumbent upon me 
to do so. I am not Wind to the fact that my testimony 
is of very little importance ; but however modest it may 
be, it seems to me that it is my duty to offer this testi- 
mony, such as it is, to those who have undertaken to 
submit to scientific discipline the study of those pheno- 
mena which are, in appearance at least, so rebellious to 
such discipline. It might have been more convenient 
and advantageous for myself had I continued my re- 
searches in peace and quiet. I do not try to prosely- 
tise, and it is really a matter of indifi^erence to me, 
whether my contemporaries share or do not share my 
views. But the sight of a few brave men fighting the 
battle alone is by no means a matter of indifference to 
me. There is a certain cowardliness in believing their 
teachings, whilst allowing them to bear all the brunt of 
the fray for upholding opinions, which require so much 
courage to champion. To these brave spirits I dedicate 
my book. 

I care naught for public opinion : not that I disdain 



it — on the contrary, I have the greatest respect for its 
judgment — but I am not addressing the public. The 
question I am studying is not ripe for the public ; or the 
case may be the other way about, 

I address those brave men of whom I have just 
spoken, to let them know I am of their mind, and that 
my observations confirm theirs on many points. I also 
address those who are seeking to establish the reality of 
the curious phenomena, treated of in this book. I have 
tried to fill a gap by showing them the best methods 
to adopt, in order to arrive at appreciable results, — such 
results being far less difficult to obtain than is commonly 

A word about the method I have followed. I have 
purposely refrained from giving a purely scientific aspect 
to my book, though I might have done so had I chosen, 
for the usual scientific dressing is unsuitable to the 
subject in hand. It seemed preferable to relate what I 
have seen, leaving it to those for whom I write to be- 
lieve me or not, as they think fit. 

I might have accumulated not a little testimony and 
considerable external evidence, but to have done so 
would not have been the means of convincing a 
single extra reader. Those, whom my simple affirma- 
tion leaves sceptical, would not be convinced by 
reports signed by witnesses, whose sincerity and com- 
petence are frequently called into question. Neither 
did I wish to adopt the method followed by the Agnelas, 
Milan, and Carqueiranne experimenters, in giving a 
detailed report of all my sittings ; this method too has its 
advantages and disadvantages. However exhaustive a 
report may be, it is difficult to indicate therein all the 


conditions of the experiment ; oversights are inevitable. 
Moreover, it would be useless to say that every precau- 
tion had been taken against fraud, for in enumerating 
such precautions, the omission of a single one would 
suffice to expose oneself to most justifiable criticism. 
Probably that very precaution was elementary and had 
been taken, or was considered useless and put aside 
deliberately ; nevertheless such circumstances would not 
escape criticism. We wish to convince by pointing out 
the exact conditions of the experiment ; but those, whom 
we would most wish to convince, are the very persons least 
prepared to judge of the conditions in which psychical 
experiences are obtained. These are physicists and 
chemists ; but living matter does not react like inorganic 
matter or chemical substances. 

I do not seek to convince these savants ; my book is 
unassuming and makes no pretence of having been 
written for them. If they in their turn should be 
tempted to try for those effects which I have obtained, 
the methods indicated will be easily accessible to them. 
It is in this way they can be indirectly convinced, though 
to convince them is not my present aim. Others are 
better qualified than I am to try their hand at this 
most desirable but, for the moment, most difficult task. 

Difficult ! Ay, and for a thousand reasons. First 
of all because it is the fashion of to-day to look upon 
these facts as unworthy of science. I acknowledge 
taking a delicate pleasure in comparing the different 
opinions which many young Savants (I beg the printer 
not to forget a very big capital S) bring to bear 
upon their contemporaries. Here is a man surrounded 
by deferential spectators : solemnly he hands a paper- 


knife to a sleeping hysterical subject, and gravely invites 
him to murder such or such an individual who is sup- 
posed to be where there is really only an empty chair. 
When the patient springs forward to carry out the sug- 
gestion, and strikes the chair with the paper-knife, the 
lookers-on behold a scientific fact, according to classical 
science. On the other hand, here is another man who, 
not a whit less solemnly, makes longitudinal passes upon 
his subject, puts him to sleep, and then tries to ex- 
teriorise the said subject's sensibility ; but the onlookers 
in this case are not recognised as witnessing a scientific 
fact ! I have never been able to see wherein lies the 
difference between these two experimenters, the one 
experimenting with an hysterical subject more or less 
untrustworthy, the other examining a phenomenon 
which, if it be true, may be observed without the 
necessity of trusting oneself solely to the honesty of the 
individual asleep. 

In fact there is a most intolerant clique among savants. 
Facts it seems are of no importance when pointed 
out by those who stand beyond the pale of oflicial 
science. Unfortunately, psychical phenomena cannot be 
as easily and readily demonstrated as the X-rays or 
wireless telegraphy, incontestable facts which any one can 
prove to his entire satisfaction. Therefore young savants 
rejoice in making an onslaught on those who apply 
themselves to the study of these phenomena. It was the 
same thing in olden times when budding theologians 
made their debuts in the arena of theology against 
notorious arch-heretics, Arians, Manicheans, or gnostics. 
Nil novi sub sole. 


I readily admit that many, who turn their atten- 
tion to the curious phenomena of which I am going 
to speak, frequently lay themselves open to criticism. 
Sometimes they are not very strict concerning the con- 
ditions under which their experiments are conducted : 
they trust naively, and their conviction is quickly formed. 
I cannot too forcibly beg them to be on their guard 
against premature assertions : may they avoid justifying 
Montaigne's saying, ' L'imagination cree le cas.' My 
remark is more particularly addressed to occult, theoso- 
phical, and spiritistic groups. The first-named follow an 
undesirable method. Their manner of reasoning is 
not likely to bring them many adepts, from among 
those who are given to thinking deeply. In ordinary 
logic, analogy and correspondence have not the same 
importance as deduction and induction. On the other 
hand it does not seem to me prudent to consider the 
esoteric interpretation of the Hebrew writings as being 
necessarily truth's last word. I do not see why I should 
transfer a belief in their exoteric assertions to a belief in 
their talmudistic or kabbalistic commentaries. I can 
hardly believe that the Rabbis of the middle ages, or 
their predecessors, Esdras' contemporaries, had a more 
correct notion of human nature than we have. Their 
errors in physics are not valid security for their accuracy 
in metaphysics. Truth cannot be usefully sought in the 
analysis of a very fine but very old book : all occult 
speculations upon secret hebraic exegeses seem to me 
but intellectual sport, to the results of which the words of 
Ecclesiastes might well be applied : Habel habalim vekol 

I may pass the same criticism upon theosophists. 


The curious mystical movement to which the teachings 
of Madame Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, and Mrs. Besant 
have given birth in Europe and in America has not 
yet been arrested. Many cultured minds and refined 
intelligences have allowed themselves to be led away by 
the neo-buddhistic evangile ; doubtless they find what they 
look for in the ' Secret Doctrine ' or in ' Isis Unveiled.' 
Trahit sua quemque voluptas. I cannot help thinking 
that the Upanishads have no more a monopoly of truth 
than the Bible has, and that every philosophy ought to 
hold fast to the study of Nature if it wishes to live 
and progress. This is, moreover, the advice of a man 
whom theosophists and occultists alike respect — I mean 
Paracelsus — ' Man is here below to instruct himself in 
the light of Nature.' 

That is what spiritists claim to do. Their philo- 
sophy, to use the term which they themselves employ 
to designate their doctrine, is founded, they say, upon 
fact and experience. It is not a revelation, contemporary 
with the splendour of Thebes or the pomp of Anoka's 
court, which gives the foundation to their dogmas. It 
is an everyday revelation, a real, continuous, and per- 
manent revelation. Their ideas concerning our origin 
and destiny, their certitude of immortality and the 
persistence of human individuality, are due to well- 
informed witnesses. These are no less than the spirits 
of the dead, who come to enlighten them and to tell 
them what is done in the hereafter. 

I envy them their simple faith, but I do not altogether 
share it. I am persuaded that our individuality has an 
infinitely longer period given it for its evolution than 
one human existence. But it is not from spiritistic 


seances that I have derived my belief ; no, my belief is 
of a philosophical kind, and is the result of pondering 
over what I know of life, of nature, and of the extremely 
slow development of the human species. It is true the 
knowledge I possess is limited, and my belief wavers ; 
yet the probabilities seem to me favourable to the 
persistence of that mysterious centre of energy which we 
call individuality. 

This opinion, however, has not been derived from 
spiritistic communications : I think these have an origin 
other than that given them by Allan Kardec's disciples. 

Naturally I am only speaking of my own personal 
experience ; I do not permit myself to pronounce as 
erroneous those convictions based upon facts not seen 
by myself. Therefore I do not wish to say that spiritists 
are always the victims of delusion ; I can only say that 
the messages, received by me and purporting to come 
from the other side of the grave, have seemed to me 
to emanate from a different source. 

At the same time, to be exact and sincere I ought 
to add that, if my conviction has not been won, I have 
observed in one or two circumstances certain facts which 
have left me most perplexed. 

Unfortunately for spiritism, an objection, which seems 
to me irrefutable, can be made to the spirits' teaching. 
In all parts of Europe, the ' spirits * vouch for reincar- 
nation. Often they indicate the moment they are going 
to reappear in a human body ; and they relate still 
more readily the past avatars of their followers. On 
the contrary, in England the spirits assure us that there 
is no reincarnation. The contradiction is formal, 
positive, and irreconcilable. Those who are inclined 


to doubt the correctness of what I affirm have only to 
glance through and compare the writings of English 
and French spiritists ; for example, those of Allan 
Kardec, Denys, Delanne, and those of Stainton- Moses. 
How are we to form an opinion worthy of acceptance ? 
Who speak the truth ? European spirits or Anglo- 
Saxon spirits ? Probably spiritistic messages do not 
emanate from very well-informed witnesses. Such is the 
conclusion arrived at by Aksakoff, one of the cleverest 
and most enlightened of spiritists. He himself acknow- 
ledges that one is never certain of the identity of the 
communicating intelligence at a spiritistic sitting. 

Although I do not share the views of occultists, 
theosophists, and spiritists, I can indeed say that their 
groups — at least those which I have frequented — are 
composed of people worthy, sincere, and convinced. 
Occultists and theosophists devote themselves perhaps 
more particularly to the development of those mysterious 
faculties which, according to them, exist in man, while 
spiritists are more incHned to call forth communica- 
tions from their spirit friends, but the anxious care of 
one and all is the moral development of their groups. 

Solicitude for the ethical culture of humanity is 
characteristic of these mystic groups. Occultism and 
theosophy draw their recruits more especially from 
intellectual centres ; the circle of spiritism is much 
wider. The simplicity of its teachings and methods 
attracts those who shrink before the personal edification 
of a creed : for it is a painful undertaking and a heavy 
task for each individual to form his own philosophy. 
It is more convenient to accept indications which are 
already made, and to believe affirmations which are — in 


appearance — sincere and well informed. Long centuries 
of religious discipline have accustomed the human mind 
to certain acts of faith, and to shun all free discussion, 
as soon as there is any question of future destinies. It 
is difficult to shake off this atavism. 

This is what makes the success of spiritism ; it comes 
at its appointed time, and supplies a wide-felt need. 

The psychological condition of society to-day is of 
an extremely perturbed nature, as slight reflection will 
suffice to show. Much has been said of the conflict 
between science and religion, but the truth has not yet 
been sounded. It is no ordinary conflict which is now 
taking place between science and revelation : it is a life- 
and-death struggle. And it is easy to foresee which 
side will succumb. 

It even seems as though the final death-struggles of 
Christian dogma had already set in. What man, sincere 
and unbiased in his opinions, could repeat to-day the 
famous credo quia absurdum } Are we not insulting the 
Divinity — if He exists — when we refuse to make use of 
His most precious gifts } when we abstain from applying 
the full force of our intelligence and reason to the exami- 
nation of our destiny and our duties to ourselves and to 
others } 

This abdication is nevertheless demanded of us — by 
Roman Catholicism for example, which exacts unquali- 
fied adhesion to its dogmas, blind belief in its Church's 
teachings, blind belief in the affirmations of its infallible 
pope. It seems to me inadmissible that the God of 
Roman Catholics should approve of such indifference. 


It is obvious that I do not wish to write a history of 
ecclesiastical controversy. I have too much respect for 
others to allow myself to attack what are still widely 
accepted creeds. My duty is but to study the general 
aspect of revelation, and to draw therefrom such conclu- 
sions as are necessary to my acquirements. 

It is an easy study. The most enlightened intellects 
stand aloof from revealed religions. I mean the majority, 
for there is still a small minority which remains faithful 
to dying creeds. 

Even the less cultivated intelligences are beginning 
to feel the insufficiency of revelation. The Divinity's 
incarnation and death, in order to redeem a race so 
unworthy of such a sacrifice, begins to astound them ; 
they wonder at such solicitude for the inhabitants of one 
of the least important spheres in the universe. They are 
also surprised at the inexorable severity of a God who, 
before granting pardon to mankind, demands his only 
son's death ; a God who, for the petty trespasses of 
beings far removed from himself, demands an eternity 
of suffering as chastisement for such ephemeral insults. 
All this fails to satisfy those souls who are enamoured of 
truth and justice. These dogmas give man a cosmical 
importance which he does not possess, and imputes to 
God a susceptibility and cruelty altogether unworthy of 
the Supreme Being. 

We could easily find other examples ; but I do not 
think it necessary to bring them to bear upon my conclu- 
sion ; a conclusion, moreover, which is admitted by the 
clergy themselves, who complain unceasingly of society's 
growing indifference. 

But is society really so indifferent ? I do not think 


so. We find indifference among the richer and more 
cultured classes, where some give themselves up to 
pleasure, others to science, in reality each one seeking 
only that which will amuse or interest him or herself ; 
but those who are without resources, those whom life 
molests and wearies, those who are afraid at the idea of 
death and annihilation, those who have need of some 
consolation, of some hope, those people are not indifferent. 
If these forsake the churches and temples, it is because 
they do not find therein what they are seeking. The 
spiritual nourishment offered them has lost its savour ; 
they ask for something more substantial and less 

Besides, even in the most highly cultured classes, this 
need begins to make itself felt. Such men as Myers, 
Sidgwick, Gurney, to speak only of the dead, took up 
the study of psychical phenomena with the desire of 
finding therein the proof of a future life. Myers died 
after having found — or thought he had found — the 
sought-for demonstration. 

Professor Haeckel of Jena drew up a philosophy for 
himself! His materialistic monism is the outward 
expression of his belief : but this is also ill-adapted to 
satisfy that longing, the extent and force of which I have 
just touched upon. 

Now spiritism lays claim to satisfying these longings ; 
and it does satisfy them, when only simple souls are 
concerned, simple souls who do not dream of life's 
complexities. The phenomena of spiritistic seances — and 
these are real phenomena — are the miracles which come 


to confirm the spirits' teachings. Why should they 
doubt ? 

Therefore the clients of spiritism are increasing in 
number with extraordinary rapidity. The extent to 
which this doctrine is spreading is one of the most curious 
things of the day. I believe we are beholding the dawn 
of a veritable religion ; a religion without a ritual and 
without an organised clergy, and yet with assemblies and 
practices which make it a veritable cult. As for me, I 
take a great interest in these meetings ; they give me 
the impression that I am assisting at the birth of a 
religious movement called to a great destiny. 

Will my anticipations be realised ? The future alone 
can tell. My opinion has been formed on impartial and 
disinterested observation. Notwithstanding the sympathy 
that I feel for those groups which have been kind enough 
to admit me into their midst, notwithstanding the friend- 
ship which binds me to many of their members, I have 
never wished to be of their propaganda, nor even to 
allow them to think that I shared their views. I have 
always plainly told them that I was by no means con- 
vinced of the constant intervention of spirits ; I have 
not concealed from them that other and, as I thought, 
more probable explanations could be given to the pheno- 
mena they witnessed ; perhaps they have appreciated my 
frankness. In any case, I am very grateful for the courtesy 
and kindliness with which they allowed me to observe 
the phenomena at their sittings, to listen to their 
mediums' teachings, and to express my opinions, which 
are so unlike their own. 

I am neither spiritist, nor theosophist, nor occultist. 


I do not believe in occult sciences, nor in the super- 
natural, nor in miracles. I believe we know as yet very 
little of the world we are living in, and that we still have 
everything to learn. The cleverest men in all epochs show 
an unconscious tendency to suppose that facts, which are 
incompatible with their ideas, are supernatural or false. 
More modest but also more cruel, our forefathers, the 
theologians and lawyers, burnt sorcerers and magicians 
without accusing them of fraud : to-day most of our 
savants, being more affirmative and less rigorous, accuse 
mediums and thaumaturgists of fraud, but without con- 
demning them to the stake. In reality their state of 
mind is the same as that of the ancient exorcists ; 
they have the same intolerance, and the different treat- 
ment meted out to their subjects is only due to the 
progressive improvement in manners and customs. 

Even those savants who are the most interested in 
psychical research are afraid of confessing their curiosity. 
It requires the broad-mindedness of a Crookes or a 
Lodge, of a Duclaux or a Richet, of a Rochas or a 
Lombroso to dare to take a stand and openly show an 
interest in this field of research. Some day, however, 
these same suspicious researches will be their experi- 
menters' best claim to fame. The present attitude of 
official science towards medianic phenomena is to be 
regretted ; its scientific ' cant ' has grievous results. 
The history of the International Psychological Institute 
is instructive in this respect. What a pity that such 
learned, remarkable, and competent men, as Janet for 
example, should have shrunk from the epithet ' psychic ' ! 
The need for d. psychical institute existed, not a psycho- 
logical one, of which there are already enough. 


It is precisely the attitude of respectable scientific 
circles which appears to me a mistake, demanding recti- 
fication. I understand perfectly and excuse this attitude. 
For so many incorrect things have been affirmed, so 
many ridiculous practices have been recommended by 
the leaders of the occult movement, that official repre- 
sentatives of science must have felt indignant. Un- 
fortunately no one except Richet has ventured to do for 
the phenomena vouched for by occultists and spiritists, 
what Charcot has done for the magnetisers' allegations. 
No doubt, this other Charcot will come when the time 
is ripe. 

The preparatory work will have been done, and he 
need only resume the experiments of Richet, Crookes, 
Lodge, Rochas, Ochorowicz, and many others. 

I class myself with these experimenters. Many of 
them are my friends, and, if our manner of thinking be 
not quite the same, my ideas upon the method to be 
used are much the same as theirs. And thus I find 
myself quite naturally led to say what my ideas 

I believe in the reality of certain phenomena which I 
have been able to verify over and over again. I see no 
need to attribute these phenomena to any supernatural 
intervention. I am inclined to think that they are pro- 
duced by some force existing within ourselves. 

I believe also that these facts can be subjected to 
scientific observation. I say observation and not experi- 
mentation, because I do not think that it is yet possible 
to proceed on veritable experimental lines. In order to 
experiment one must understand the conditions necessary 
to produce a given result ; now, in our case, we have a 



most imperfect knowledge of the required conditions, 
which are, nevertheless, necessary antecedents to the 
sought-for phenomena. We are in the position of the 
astronomer who can put his eye to the telescope and 
observe the firmament, but who cannot provoke the pro- 
duction of a single celestial phenomenon. 

My position is therefore very simple. It is that of 
an impartial observer. The occult sciences and spiritism 
never aroused my curiosity, and I was more than thirty 
years of age, when my attention was drawn towards 
psychical phenomena. I did not even try to turn a table 
before I was thirty-five, considering such facts as un- 
worthy of serious examination. It is only since 1892 
that I have become interested in these researches. 

I cannot remember to-day how I was led to take up 
the study ; it was not abruptly. I am certain that no 
striking incident was ever responsible for a sudden 
changing of my mind. As far as my recollection goes, 
I think it was the chance perusal of some theosophical 
works, which made me curious to know the extent of a 
mystical movement, whose existence I had not even sus- 
pected. My discoveries astonished me, for I never 
thought that mysticism could find adherents at the end 
of the nineteenth century. The opening address pro- 
nounced by me at the Court of Appeal at Limoges in 
1893 was upon this subject. 

This address brought me many correspondents, and I 
was led to experiment myself. My first results were 
negative, and except a few interesting experiments made 
at Limoges with a lady of that town — a remarkable 
medium — and her husband, the phenomena which I 
observed were not of a nature to convince me. In 1895 


I went to I'Agnelas, and took part in the experiments of 
MM. de Rochas, Dariex, Sabatier, de Gramont and de 
Watteville. The report of these experiments has been 
pubhshed in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques. 

Surprised at these manifestations, I became filled with 
the desire to investigate further ; and soon afterwards 
curiosity prompted me to take advantage of a leisure 
moment to resump the I'Agnelas experiments. In 1896 
Eusapia Paladino was kind enough to spend a fortnight 
at my house at Choisy, near Bordeaux. MM. de 
Rochas, Watteville, Gramont, Brincard, and General 
Thomassin were present at all or some of these experi- 
ments. The Attorney-General, M. Lefranc, my friend 
and chief, was also present at one of our sittings. M. 
Bechade and a Bordeaux medium, Madame Agullana, 
were also my guests. The results of these sittings have 
been noted down by M. de Rochas in a small volume 
which has not been made public. More and more 
interested, and desirous of investigating still further 
what I had seen with Eusapia, I begged her to pay me 
another visit. She consented, and returned in 1897, 
giving me another fortnight, this time in my home at 
Bordeaux. The phenomena which my friends and I 
obtained on that occasion were as demonstrative as 

Eusapia is not the only medium with whom I have 
experimented. Madame Agullana of Bordeaux, with her 
customary disinterestedness, has given me many sittings : 
the results I obtained with her are of a different order. 
I also brought twice to Bordeaux the young mediums of 
Agen, where a previous opportunity had been given me 
of observing them ; at Agen their phenomena had won 


for their home the reputation of being haunted. Lastly, 
I have found some remarkable mediums at Bordeaux, 
among those who did me the honour of admitting me 
to their sittings. I also came across a large number of 
mediums manifesting automatic phenomena only ; these, 
too, were interesting in their way, for they enabled 
me to note and understand the difference between so- 
called supernatural phenomena and phenomena which are 
but the expression of an activity, which, in appearance at 
least, is extraneous to the ordinary personality. 

Finally, I have frequently come across fraud. This 
was instructive, and I observed the fraudulent with 
patience and interest. The tricks of voluntary fraud 
deserve to be known and studied, as one is then better 
able to frustrate and checkmate them. Involuntary 
fraud — far more common than voluntary fraud — is no 
less instructive, for it throws a vivid light upon the 
curious phenomena of automatic activity. 

It is not always becoming to entertain one's readers 
with personalities, but I think I ought to infringe a little 
upon decorum, in order to specify the state of mind in 
which I have pursued my observations. From the very 
beginning I w£ts struck by a fact which seems beyond 
doubt. I saw that certain manifestations — to all appear- 
ances supernormal — could only be studied with the 
assistance of nervous and mental pathology. Therefore 
I went to school again, and for six years I studied assid- 
uously clinical medicine at the University of Bordeaux. 
It is not within my present scope to write the panegyric 
of the masters to whose teachings I listened, their names 
would seem out of place in a book like this. But I may 
say that the interest which I took in my medical studies 



became more lively, as I understood their importance 
better and better. Doubtless the notions which I have 
acquired are most rudimentary, but however unpretentious 
they may be, they have enabled me to understand the 
mechanism of certain manifestations, and to bring a more 
precise judgment to bear upon their psychological value. 
I am, therefore, an interested but impartial onlooker. 
It matters little to me if a table or a chair moves of its 
own accord ; I have no particular desire to see them 
accomplish these movements. The only interest, which 
I find in this fact, is its truth. Its reality alone is of 
value to me, and I have applied myself to establish this 
without any possible error. My unique preoccupation 
has been to make sure of the reality of the phenomena 
which I observed. The pursuit of truth has been my 
sole concern. 

True, 1 sought it in my own way ; for I preferred 
to build my conviction upon a basis which would satisfy 
my intelligence and my reason, rather than impose a 
priori conditions which the experiment ought to satisfy in 
order to convince me. I am ignorant of most of these 
conditions, and I think that every one else is also. Con- 
sequently, I consider it imprudent to establish beforehand 
the conditions under which the experiments are to be 
made, in order to merit being recorded. It might just 
happen, that one of the conditions thus laid down 
rendered the experiment im-practicable. Therefore I 
have observed rather than experimented. 

My manner of proceeding has been productive of 
many happy results ; for the curious phenomena which 
I have been able to observe are capricious ; they shun 
those who would force them, and offer themselves to 


those who wait for them patiently. This behaviour, 
this spontaneity, is not the least astonishing feature in 
this line of observation. 

I have always thought that there was nothing of a 
supernatural order in these phenomena. My conclusions 
have not changed ; but let us understand the meaning of 
this expression. I do not mean to say that these pheno- 
mena are always in accordance with nature's laws such as 
we understand them to-day. I am certain that we are 
in the presence of an unknown force ; its manifestations 
do not seem to obey the same laws, as those governing 
other forces more familiar to us ; but I have no doubt 
they obey some law, and perhaps the study of these 
phenomena will lead us to the conception of laws more 
comprehensive than those already known. Some future 
Newton will discover a more complete formula than 

My position, therefore, seems to me to be well defined. 
I have held myself aloof from those who denied upon 
bias, and also from those who asserted too rashly. I 
have remained within the margin of science. I have 
endeavoured to bring to bear upon my experiments 
methods of scientific observation. I wish to go in 
neither for occultism, nor for spiritism, nor for any- 
thing mysterious or supernatural. Many who know 
me imperfectly may think that I have given reins to 
my imagination, that I am an adept in theosophy, neo- 
martinism, or spiritism. Such is not the case. I seek, 
and I have found — very little ; others have been more 
fortunate than I. Some day perhaps I shall have the 
same good luck. But I shall not touch upon what 
others have done, save as an accessory ; I shall only 


speak of what I myself have seen and what I myself 
think. My book is the statement of a witness — it 
has no other signification. 

One word in conclusion. A great number of my 
experiments have been made with people who wish to 
preserve their incognito. I have never been wanting in 
discretion when this was asked of me, and have never 
disclosed the names of those who placed their confidence 
in me, permitting me to experiment with them whilst 
desirous of remaining unknown. I have sometimes 
found very remarkable mediums among these anonymous 
experimenters. Some of my sittings with them have 
been truly admirable on account of the clear, distinct 
nature of the phenomena obtained. I beg these trusting 
friends to accept my heartfelt thanks. 

May my book have the good fortune to contribute, 
however feebly, towards removing the prejudices which 
keep away so many likely experimenters from these studies 
and researches. These prejudices are manifold : there 
is the fear of ridicule, the religious scruple, the delusive 
dread of nervous or mental disease, the terror of an 
unknown world peopled with strange, mysterious beings. 
But time will dispel all this, and I believe that a day will 
come, when these facts — well studied, well observed — 
will change our conceptions of things in a way little 
dreamt of to-day. The sphere of ' Psychical Science ' 
is unmeasurable. A few pioneers only are exploring 
therein to-day ; when the land has been tilled and culti- 
vated it will yield, I am sure, a wonderful crop — the 
harvest will surpass the dreams of imagination. 

But let those who, thanks to a scientific education, are 
particularly well qualified to undertake these studies. 


cease to consider them unworthy of their attention. In 
holding themselves aloof they commit a mistake which 
they will bitterly regret some day. Allowing even that 
the first experimenter may be guilty of mistakes, there 
will always remain something out of the facts which they 
have observed. Mistakes are unavoidable in the debut 
of a new science : the methods are uncertain, and the 
novelty of the phenomena makes their analysis difficult ; 
time, labour in common, and experience will remedy 
these inevitable inconveniences. 

It would be very easy to give examples of the 
delay which scientific prejudice has brought to bear upon 
scientific progress. This criticism has already been very 
frequently and wittily made. Even those men, whose 
discoveries have placed them at the head of the intellectual 
movement of their generation, are not altogether free 
from blame, yielding too often to the deplorable tendency 
of converting natural laws into dogmas. They commit 
the same fault they object to in theologians. Man has a 
wonderful aptitude for laying hold of his neighbours' 
faults and remaining blind to his own, and probably it 
will be so for a long time to come. I would like to see 
science rid itself for good and all of this theological habit 
of mind. 

Science has only to think about facts. There should 
be no distinction made between the various phenomena 
observed : it is not beseeming to adopt certain facts, and 
refuse analysis to others, excluding them on the ground, 
for example, that their examination belongs to reHgion. 
Every natural fact ought to be studied, and, if it be real, 
incorporated with the patrimony of knowledge. What 
matters its apparent contradiction with the laws of nature, 


such as we understand them to-day ? These laws are not 
principles superior to our experience ; they are but the 
expression of our experience : our knowledge is very 
limited and our experience is still young — it will 
grow, and its development will bring the inevitable 
consequence of a corresponding modification in our 
conception of nature. Therefore, let us not be too 
positive of the accuracy of present ideas, and arbitrarily 
reject everything which we think runs counter to them. 
Do not dogmatise ; let our only care be the impartial 
search for truth. Nothing will better enable us to 
understand the surroundings in the midst of which we 
are evolving than facts, which are apparently irreconcilable 
with current ideas : these facts betoken that the ideas are 
erroneous or incomplete ; their attentive observation will 
reveal a more general formula which will explain at one 
and the same time the new and the old. And thus 
from antithesis to synthesis, more and more universal, 
our scientific ideas will tend towards absolute truth. 

Alas ! how far away from this ideal do we seem to be 
to-day ! Laboremus ! 




A French proverb says, ' we must have eggs to make an 
omelette ' : in order to be able to study psychical pheno- 
mena we must have psychical phenomena. This seems 
an elementary proposition, and yet it is the very one we 
most readily overlook. I have already said why and 

Therefore, I deem it necessary to indicate at once the 
methods which have appeared to me to give the most 
favourable results. Those of my readers who may wish 
to verify the accuracy of my conclusions will, I am sure, 
have the opportunity of doing so, if they operate as I 
have done. First of all, I must warn them against 
caring for the world's opinion. They must not be afraid 
of exposing themselves to ridicule. No doubt there is 
temptation to make a jest of the methods which I advise ; 
but I strongly recommend them to think about the result, 
and not about the means used to obtain that result. 

Psychical phenomena are of two orders : material and 
intellectual. The methods best suited to the study of 
the first are not, in my opinion, adapted to the study of 
the second. There is a distinction, therefore, to be 
made in the beginning between these two categories of 


Physical phenomena are the least frequently met with ; 
they include : — 

1 . Knockings or * raps ' on furniture, walls, floors, or 
on the experimenters themselves. 

2. Sundry noises other than raps. 

3. Movements of objects without sufficient contact to 
explain the movement produced. There is here a dis- 
tinction to be made between (a) movements produced 
without any contact whatever — telekinesis : e.g. the rising 
or sliding of a table or chair, the swaying of scales, 
etc., without their being touched ; and (/^) movements 
with contact, which is insufficient to explain them — 
parakinesis : e.g. the levitation of a table on which the 
experimenters lay their hands. 

4. Apports : that is to say, the sudden appearance 
of objects — flowers, sweets, stones, etc, — which have 
not been brought by any of the assistants. This 
phenomenon — if it exists — supposes, in addition, the 
following : — 

5. Penetrability, or the passage of matter through 

6. Visual phenomena, which are themselves subdivided 
into : — 

{a) Vision of the odic effluvium. 

{F) Amorphous lights. 

{c) Forms, either luminous or non-luminous. 

{a) Lastly, the most complete phenomenon of all — 

the materialisation of a form, human or 

otherwise, luminous or not. 

7. Phenomena which leave permanent traces, such as 


8. Alteration in the weight of material objects or of 
certain people : levitation. 

9. Perceptible changes in the temperature : sensation 
of cold or heat ; spontaneous combustion. 

10. Cool breezes. 

Such are the chief psychical phenomena of the material 
order, which have been pointed out by different experi- 
menters. I have not verified all of them : raps, tele- 
kinetic, and a few luminous phenomena are all I have 
obtained in a thoroughly satisfactory manner. 

Intellectual phenomena are those which imply the 
expression of a thought. I will class them in the 
following manner : — 

1. Typtology : the table, upon which the experi- 
menters lay their hands, leans to one side and recovers 
equilibrium by striking the ground. 

2. Grammatology or spelt-out sentences. Various 
methods may be used. The principal are : — 

{a) Repeating the alphabet until a rap indicates the 

letter to be retained ; 
(J?) Pointing out the letters of the alphabet by 

means of a pencil or stiletto, etc., until a 

rap indicates where to stop ; 
(<:) Finally, the designation of the required letters 

by an index-hand on a pivot fixed in the 

middle of a circle composed of the alphabet, 

the index-hand moving with or without 


3. Automatic writing : immediate^ when the subject 
writes without the intermedium of an instrument ; 
mediate^ when he uses an instrument, such as a plan- 
chette, a wooden ball with handles fastened to it, a basket, 


a hat, a stand, etc. In this case, several people can 
combine their action by laying their hands all together 
upon the object to which the pencil is attached. 

4. Direct writing : i.e. writing which appears on slates, 
paper, etc., whether in or out of sight of the experi- 
menters. If the letters seem to be formed without the 
aid of a pencil we have precipitated writing. 

5. Incarnation or 'control': the subject, when 
asleep, speaks in the name of some entity or order, 
V7\{\c]\ possesses him. 

6. Direct voices : when words are heard, appearing to 
emanate from vocal organs other than those of the 
persons present; some experimenters are supposed to 
have conversed in this way with materialised forms. 

7. Certain automatisms other than writing are observ- 
able : e.g. crystal- and mirror-gazing ; audition in conch- 
formed shells ; sundry hallucinations, telepathy and 
telesthesia : ' the communication of impressions of any 
kind from one mind to another, independently of the 
recognised channels of sense ' ; perception at a distance 
of positive impressions. These phenomena bring in 
their train clairvoyance or voyance, and lucidity, expres- 
sions which are by no means identical. Lucidity 
designates more particularly the faculty which certain 
people have, in magnetic sleep or in somnambulism, 
of getting exact impressions in a supernormal manner ; 
clairvoyants or voyants are those who see forms in- 
visible to other people. Clairaudience denotes phenomena 
of the same kind in the auditory sphere. 

I have paid scarcely any attention to these intellectual 
phenomena, with the exception of automatic writing, 
crystal-gazing, typtology, and ' control.' If I have taken 


greater interest in material than in intellectual pheno- 
mena, it is because they struck me as being more simple 
and easier to observe. This sentiment is not that of all 
experimenters, and my colleagues of the London Society 
for Psychical Research appear to be more affirmative in 
their conclusions, concerning survival after death and 
communication vyith the dead, than in their opinions on 
material phenomena. My personal experience has not 
led me to the same ideas. 

Undoubtedly, experiments demonstrating the persist- 
ence of human personality after death would have an 
interest, in comparison with which all others would be 
blotted out. But the analysis of phenomena of this 
kind raises difficulties, which are much more compli- 
cated than is the simple observation of a physical fact. 
Intellectual phenomena always suppose some kind of 
motor automatism or other ; of course, I am not 
speaking of manifestations where the will of the sensitive 
intervenes : this automatism is manifested by language, 
writing, or the less elevated motor phenomena, typtology 
for example ; it may also be sensory and manifest itself 
in hallucinations of various kinds. To understand the 
infinite complication of intellectual phenomena it suffices 
to indicate the conditions under which they are observed. 
Before admitting that the cause of the apparent auto- 
matism is foreign to the sensitive, we must be able to 
eliminate with certitude the action of his personal or 
impersonal conscience. To what extent does the sub- 
liminal memory intervene ? — a first difficulty which is 
scarcely solvable ! 

But supposing it to be solved, the problem still 
remains almost intact. If the knowledge of a positive 


fact, certainly unknown to the medium, appears in his 
automatic communications, we must not thereupon 
conclude that this knowledge is due to the intervention 
of a disincarnated spirit. Telepathy may be able to 
explain it. Telepathy is, as we know, the transmission 
of an idea, an impression, a psychical condition of some 
kind or other from one person to another. We are 
altogether ignorant of its laws, and nothing warrants 
the assertion, that if telepathy is a fact — as appears most 
probable — it is therefore necessary that any particular 
motive condition should exist in the agent. We may 
suppose with just as much reason, that the existence of 
a souvenir in one mind can be discovered and recognised 
by another, under conditions solely depending on the 
mental state of the percipient. This is, properly speaking, 
telesthesia. Now it is very difficult to prove that the 
fact, of which automatism marks the knowledge, is 
unknown to everybody. It is even impossible to prove 
it. But supposing this were done, there would always 
remain the possibility of attributing the communication 
to some being other than human : by admitting even 
the existence of spiritual or immaterial beings distinct 
from ourselves, nothing warrants us to affirm that such 
beings are our deceased relatives or friends and not 
some facetious Kobolds. 

Prediction and precognition, of which I have had 
proof, raise just as complicated questions as the pre- 
ceding ones. I confine myself to recording without 
trying to explain these facts. 

Therefore, I have given my preferences to the study 
of physical phenomena, because in such I have not to 
consider the mental condition of the subject, nor have 


I any of those delicate analyses to make, the complexity 
of which I have just mentioned. I have to defend myself 
against only two enemies, the fraud of others and my own 
illusions. Now, I feel certain of never having been the 
victim of either. When, for example, in the refreshment- 
room of a railway-station, in a restaurant, in a tea-shop, 
I have observed, in broad daylight, a piece of furniture 
change place of its own accord, 1 have a right to think I 
am not in the presence of furniture especially arranged 
to produce such effects. When the unforeseen nature of 
the experiment excludes the hypothesis of preparation, 
when, by sight and touch, I make sure of the absence of 
contact between the experimenters and the article which 
is displaced, I have sufficient reasons for excluding the 
hypothesis of fraud. When I measure the distance 
between the objects before and after the displacement, I 
have also sufficient reason for excluding the hypothesis 
of the illusion of my senses. If this right be refused me, 
I should really like to know how any fact whatever can 
be observed. No one is more convinced than myself 
of the frailty of our impressions and the relativity of our 
perceptions ; nevertheless, there must be some way of 
perceiving a phenomenon in order to submit it to impar- 
tial observation. Besides, the supposed reproach of illusion 
cannot be applied in a general sense ; to admit its justice 
would be to do away with the very foundations of our 
sciences. It can only be applied to me as an individual, 
and I willingly admit that it is impossible for me to 
exculpate myself. In vain might I plead that I am per- 
suaded of the regularity of my perceptions, in vain assert 
that I observe no tendency to illusion in myself, my 
testimony would remain none the less suspected. 


Consequently, I have but one reply for those who 
mistrust my qualifications as an observer, and that is to 
invite them to take the trouble of experimenting on their 
own account, using the methods which I have adopted. 
If, a -priori^ they wish to lay down their own conditions, 
they run the risk of receiving no appreciable results. 
When they have obtained a few plain facts they will be 
able to vary the conditions of experimentation, and 
satisfy the legitimate exigencies of their own reason. 
That is what I did, and if I cannot solemnly affirm the 
reality of the phenomena which I have observed, I can 
at all events affirm my personal conviction of their exist- 
ence. Maybe I am showing an exaggerated mistrust of 
myself by thus only affirming my subjective conviction, 
and in not venturing to affirm with a like energy the 
objective reality of the things I have seen. Yet I trust 
no one will blame me for my prudent reserve. What 
man can say he has never made a mistake ? 

Only those, who put themselves in the same conditions 
which enabled me to make my observations, have a right 
to criticise those observations. 

To criticise without experience is unreasonable, and I 
recognise no competence in those judges whose decisions 
are made without preliminary information. For the rest, 
I have no wish to convert any one to my ideas, and am 
indifferent— respectfully indifferent, if you like — to the 
judgment which may be formed about me. 

The methods recommended by diverse occult schools 
vary a great deal. Theosophists do not reveal to the 
profane the means they use to obtain supernormal facts. 
This discretion astonishes me, for the theosophical society 
is filled with a lively spirit of propagandism. It has its 



chief centre at Adyar, and lodges or branches everywhere. 
The theosophical reviews venture to discuss the most ele- 
vated problems of philosophy, and are not at all sparing 
of the most extraordinary revelations of esoteric teaching ; 
but they are remarkably sparing of practical indications. 

Theosophical phenomenonalism appears to derive in- 
spiration from Hindu-Yogism. I do not know the 
rules of training to which Yogis submit themselves. 
The most severe abstinence seems to be recommended 
them. Adepts are generally initiated by their Gurus or 
masters, and 1 have not been fortunate enough to be 
the chela of an initiated. 

The French occultists who are connected with Eliphas 
Levy by Papus (Dr. Encausse), Guaita, Haven, Barlet, 
Sedir, recommend the practice of magic. Descriptions 
of the necessary magical material will be found in 
treatises by Papus and Eliphas Levy. The results 
which the Magi relate having been obtained are so vague, 
that I have had no curiosity to put into practice the 
strange proceedings of magic ceremonial recommended 
by them. These have a serious inconvenience ; namely, 
to strike the imagination of credulous folk, and to 
facilitate auto-suggestion, sensorial illusions, and hallu- 
cinations. To accomplish the rites, moreover, it is 
necessary to dispose of rooms arranged in a particular 
way, and to submit oneself to a severe diet for a certain 
time. This makes it a complicated matter. Well, I 
must admit I was ashamed to try these methods. I 
lacked the courage to don the cloak and the linen robe, 
to trace the circle, and with lighted lamp and sword in 
hand await visions about to appear in the smoke arising 
from the burning incense. I own I was perhaps wrong 


not to try what are apparently the less rational methods. 
Only caring for the result obtained, I certainly would 
not have hesitated to resort to white or even black 
magic, had I had any reason whatsoever to anticipate a 
positive result. In order to obtain an observable fact, I 
would not have hesitated laying myself open to ridicule. 
But the statements of experimenters of the occult school 
seemed to imply a poverty of practical results. If the 
magi of the present day had realised some operation 
easily accessible to observation, they would not have 
omitted acquainting us of the fact in one or other 
of their numerous reviews. Their silence struck me as 

Moreover, the very essence even of Hermetic 
doctrines, openly professed by occultists, is opposed 
to all such divulgence. The ancient doctrine exacted 
initiation. The Rosicrucians, if I am not mistaken, 
could only initiate an adept. Then again, they were 
allowed to use this privilege only upon attaining a 
certain age, and when convinced of having found a 
discreet and trustworthy pupil. All that publicity made 
to-day about Hermetic sciences is the actual negation of 
their first precepts. These indiscretions bring to my 
mind the words of one of my predecessors at the 
Bordeaux Court [successor of the ancient Parliament 
of Guyenne], the President Jean d'Espagnet, one of the 
three or four adepts who pass for having unriddled the 
great arcanum. ' Facilia intellectu suspecta haheat^ he 
says, speaking to the seeker, ' maxime in mysticis 
nominibus et arcanis operationibus ; in obscuris enim 
Veritas delitescit ; nee unquam dolosius qiiam qumn aperte, 
nee verius quam quum obscure, scribunt philosophi.' 


Then, again, I had a decisive reason for choosing 
spiritistic methods : they are not mysterious and they 
require no special subjective preparation. They are 
simple — in appearance, at least — and can be easily 
applied. Spiritists, and certain experimenters who have 
adopted their methods without sharing their theories, 
affirm having obtained surprising results. Therefore, 
I had nothing better to do than choose these same 
methods. Because of their simplicity, and the multi- 
plicity of certified results, I considered it preferable to 
adopt the methods of spiritists. I will, therefore, in- 
dicate how I experiment when I am free to direct the 
sittings — which, unfortunately, is not always the case. 

I shall divide my indications into three wide categories : 
I. Material Conditions; 2. Composition of the Circle; 
3. Methods of Operation. 

I will add that these indications are not absolute. 


Results are generally better, when operations are 
carried on in a room whose dimensions do not exceed 
15 to 20 square yards in area, and 12 to 15 feet in 
height. Smaller rooms may be used, but then the heat 
is sometimes trying. 

The temperature of the room is an important factor. 
Heat, although it may inconvenience the experimenters 
and the medium, appears to exercise a favourable influence 
on the emission of the force. On the contrary, cold is 
an element of non-success. Of course, I am speaking of 
the temperature of the room. I would advise operating 
in a temperature of from 20 to 25 degrees centigrade. It 



is decidedly necessary to avoid having cold hands and 

In winter the seance-room should be thoroughly 
warmed and the fire allowed to go out before the 
sitting, in case luminous phenomena should be forth- 

I fancied I saw an advantage, especially for movements 
without contact, in operating in an uncarpeted room. 
The carpet not only seems to be a bad element generally, 
it also hinders the gliding movements of the table, which 
are often only very slight. 

As for exterior meteorological conditions, I have 
noticed that a dry cold favours the production of 
psychical phenomena : it is, I believe, the temperature 
optima. In any case, the dryness of the air is a very 
good condition. I have noticed that the phenomena 
were more easily obtained, when outside conditions 
favoured the production of numerous sparks under the 
wheels of electric trams. I have often noticed this 
coincidence between good sittings and the abundance 
of electric sparks above-mentioned. I believe that the 
hygrometrical state of the atmosphere is an important 
factor in the production of these sparks. Rain and wind 
are, on the contrary, causes of failure. 

The lighting of the seance-room is one of the most 
important considerations in experimentation. Lamps 
and candles have the inconvenience of taking some time 
to light, and they do not allow of easy and rapid 
modification in the illumination of the room. Electric 
lighting is the best system, because, disposing of several 
lamps, it suffices to press a hand-lever in order to vary 
the quantity and quahty of the light. 


Much criticism has been passed on the particular kind 
of experiments I have undertaken to relate ; one of the 
most frequently reiterated criticisms is the reproach of 
always operating in obscurity. Nothing can be more 
inexact. As far as I am concerned, 1 have never con- 
sidered as convincing telekinetic and parakinetic experi- 
ments made in obscurity. Those movements without 
contact, which have brought about my conviction, were 
obtained in full light, and more often in broad daylight. 
Of course, it is evident that darkness is necessary for the 
observation of luminous phenomena. To insist upon 
proving, in broad daylight, the reality of the delicate 
phosphorescences which it has been given me to observe, 
is a glaring contradiction. 

On the other hand, there is no doubt that darkness 
is particularly favourable to phenomena of a physical 
order. On several occasions I have had the opportunity 
of recognising this fact under conditions, which rendered 
the hypothesis of fraud extremely improbable. For 
example, I have frequently obtained raps in the light, 
the number and intensity of which increased when the 
light was extinguished. It is the same with movements 
of objects without contact ; but, I repeat, obscurity is 
not necessary. 

In a popular scientific review I once read a criticism 
of some experiments in which I took part — a 
criticism written by a medical man at Bruxelles, if 
my memory be correct. This doctor, a man of talent, 
imagined that our conclusions were founded upon ex- 
periments conducted solely in total obscurity. He 
committed an involuntary mistake. 

Psychical phenomena can be obtained in broad day- 


liofht, and an endeavour should be made to obtain them 
in this way. There has been a general tendency to put 
out all lights in order to procure more marked pheno- 
mena. This is a wrong way of proceeding, if one seeks 
physical phenomena such as raps or movements without 
contact. We must avoid working without light, for the 
habit of only being able to emit the nervous force in 
obscurity is most easily acquired ; and it is by no means 
easy to suppress acquired habits. Eusapia Paladino 
had the habit of demanding the gradual extinction of 
the light as her trance deepened. In 1897 I was able to 
get through her the same phenomena, with a certain 
amount of light and without the trance condition, I 
still remember her astonishment at obtaining, in her 
waking state, phenomena which, until then, she had 
obtained in the second state only. Sleep and darkness 
were the conditions this remarkable medium had become 
accustomed to, but they were not necessary. My first 
recommendation, then, is to operate with light, with as 
much light as possible. 

I repeat, however, that sometimes the lessening of light 
is desirable — often the medium demands it — even its 
total extinction is sometimes necessary, as, for example, 
when sitting for luminous phenomena. It is therefore 
well to have a series of graduated electric lights more 
or less shaded. The simpler thing is to have a Pigeon 
lamp. These petroleum lamps do not give much light, 
but the graduation of the light is easily effected with 
them. Their great advantage is this, when the elec- 
tricity is turned off, their feeble light — quite sufficient 
in certain cases — is capable of being gradually reduced 
until total obscurity is obtained. 


Coloured lights are often useful : I have not tried blue ; 
yellow, violet, and green are good ; while red fatigues 
the eyes. For certain series of experiments, I arranged 
my light so as to obtain white, yellow, green, or red, 
according to wish : the first three give sufficient illumina- 
tion ; it is not at all the same with red. 

I strongly recommend avoiding the concentration of 
the luminous source. To avoid that inconvenience, 
dull glass may be used, or the lamps and lantern-sides 
may be covered with transparent paper — the quantity 
of light is not sensibly diminished, and the sight is less 

The quality of the light employed did not seem to me 
to have any very noticeable influence on the phenomena, 
yet I think my best results have been obtained in the 
twilight hours, or in the afternoon between five and 
seven o'clock, when the hard light of day had been 
tempered by drawing the blinds together. 

The most important question after that of illumination 
is the choice of apparatus. I do not hesitate to say that 
the table is the best thing to use. However, it must not 
be imagined this article is an indispensable tool. Move- 
ments without contact can be obtained just as well with 
chairs, baskets, hats, pieces of wood, linen, etc., but a 
table is more convenient. 

I have obtained equally good results with round or 
rectangular tables ; the latter have perhaps given me the 
finest experiences. Eusapia generally uses rectangular 
tables ; at I'Agnelas the table we used weighed about 13 
kilogrammes, at Choisy 6 or 7, at Bordeaux about 7 kg. 
500 grs. When sitting for raps or movements without 
contact, I think it is better to use lighter tables ; for 


psychical force is mensurable : some mediums incapable 
of moving a table weighing ten kilogrammes may be able 
to obtain the levitation of a lighter one. 

Some of my recent results lead me to think, there might 
be an advantage in using tables made with a double top, 
a space of three or four inches separating the two shelves. 
I have not experimented sufficiently to be able to express 
an opinion on the advantages which, theoretically, the 
double top seems to hold out. My impression is that 
the table acts something like a condenser, in which case 
the purpose of a double top can be understood. 

The legs of the table should be separated. One-legged 
tables should be discarded, and especially tripods, their 
supervision being so very difficult. When the legs are 
thin and apart, observation is untrammelled. 

The colour of the table did not seem to me to exercise 
any influence over the phenomena. I have been equally 
successful with black, white, red, and brown tables. 
They may be polished or unpolished. I do not think it 
matters what kind of wood they are made of, though 
I have obtained my finest raps with an unpolished 
mahogany table. 

I have noticed there is an advantage in covering the 
table with some white material of light texture, which 
should not fall beyond the edges of the table more 
than one or two inches, as it would otherwise interfere 
with the experimenters' reciprocal supervision. I do not 
know why the presence of a cloth should be favourable 
to raps and movements ; at all events, it makes 
fraudulent raps and communicated movements much 
more difficult. 

It is well to curtain off one corner of the room in order 


to form a cabinet. If the room be narrow enough, it is 
more convenient to stretch the curtains at the end 
opposite the window — an arrangement I adopted at 

The dimensions of the cabinet ought not to exceed 
3 feet 9 inches to 4 feet 6 inches in width, 2 feet in depth, 
and 6 feet in height. I think there is an advantage in 
partially closing in the top. 

The curtains should be made of some material of 
light thin texture. It is a mistake to think they should 
be of a dark colour ; I have obtained just as good results 
with plain white sheets as with dark curtains. 

When studying movement of objects without contact, 
it is useful to place in the cabinet light articles which 
produce a noise when shaken. The common tambourine 
is very appropriate for this purpose, as are also accordions, 
toy-pianos, harmonicas, hand-bells, etc. 

The experimenters ought to sit upon wooden chairs 
with cane seats. Upholstered chairs are not to be 

An easy-chair should be placed in the cabinet for 
the medium, in case he should wish to sit there. 
Mediums often express this wish, when in a state of 
' trance ' or somnambulism. I give the name of ' trance ' 
to the sleep or torpor which is generally noticed in the 
sensitive, when the phenomena attain their maximum 
intensity. I prefer the word ' trance ' to any other 
expression, because the condition of the entranced 
medium does not seem to me to be identical with that 
of the somnambulist ; and for the particular experiments 
with which I am dealing, it is of interest to use terms 
which do not lead to confusion. 


It is extremely useful to have a registering apparatus, 
which will allow of making graphical descriptions of 
certain movements. Sir William Crookes used this 
with success. I have not had the opportunity of using 
any ; for I had no such apparatus at hand when 1 
experimented with Eusapia Paladino. Later on, in a 
series of promising experiments, the health of the 
medium with whom I was operating obliged me to cease 
work, before I was able to make use of my registers, 

I must, however, warn experimenters against the 
premature use of any kind of apparatus whatever. One 
of the most curious features of psychical phenomena 
is their apparent independence. The phenomena direct 
us ; they do not allow themselves to be easily led. 
Often they seem to obey some will other than that of 
the sitters ; and it is this which forms the basis of 
spiritistic belief; but, though I have not been able to 
grasp its laws, my impression is that this spontaneousness 
is only apparent. 

Sensitives, as a rule, exhibit great repugnance to 
mechanical tests. This repugnance is one of the 
difficulties which repel the best predisposed minds, and 
quickly leads them to the conclusion of dishonesty, an 
unwarranted conclusion sometimes. I have come across 
many mediums, who themselves offered me every help 
in their power when devising test conditions. It is true 
these mediums are private individuals of position and 
education, and are extremely anxious that their psychic 
powers might not be made public in any way ; for they 
do not wish to expose themselves to the criticism and 
abuse which is so lavishly bestowed upon mediums. 
This is particularly the case with ladies, 


Certainly, the attacks made on Eusapia Paladino by 
a badly informed press and public are not encouraging 
to the more highly gifted mediums. I owe it to 
Eusapia to say that, in my experiments with her, she 
has always submitted to the exigencies of the most 
severe test conditions. If she has sometimes given me 
suspicious phenomena, she did so only under especial 
psychological conditions.-^ 

Though I have not employed any registering appar- 
atus, I have used instruments of weight and measure 
particularly a letter-balance — an article as convenient 
as it is easily employed. Each experimenter can and 
ought to vary the conditions of experimentation accord- 
ing to his wishes, within the limits which frequent 
experimentation will very quickly give him. The 
results obtained must be definite. To be satisfied with 
approximate results in such a matter would be absolute 
loss of time. 

In concluding my remarks about the paraphernalia 
of the seance-room, I will give one more recommenda- 
tion which may seem extraordinary, but which, I have 
reason to believe, is useful ; this is that there should be 
no metal about the table : it is better to fasten it together 
with pegs rather than with nails. This is not an 
absolute condition, however, for I have obtained good 
results with nailed tables ; yet my impression is that 
the absence of all metal is an element of success. 
Mediums are sometimes extremely sensitive to metals. 
Certain sensitives complain of their rings, which seem 
to make them feel uncomfortable, giving them, at 
times, a sensation of exaggerated heat. This brings 

1 See Appendix B. 


to mind certain facts met with from time to time in 
our neurotic cliniques. 


The most important thing in the organisation of a 
series of experiments is the choice of persons with whom 
we intend to operate. First of all, it must be remem- 
bered that without a medium no phenomena will be 
forthcoming. The presence of some one, gifted with 
the power of producing psychical phenomena, is perhaps 
the only necessary and indispensable condition of their 
realisation. Therefore, experimentation ought only to 
be seriously thought of when in possession of that rara 

What, then, is a medium.'' By what distinguishing 
features can he be recognised } It is very difficult to 
answer these questions. 

I will give the name of ' medium ' to any person 
capable of producing any of the phenomena previously 
mentioned. I adopt the word ' medium,' because it is 
consecrated by custom and has received the precise 
signification I mention. Some philosophers criticise 
this definition. Their criticisms are, I think, misplaced. 
In metaphysics it is easy to give definitions which, 
though elegant, are founded upon nothing. In physics 
— I use this word in its etymological and primitive 
sense — a being can only be defined by its properties. 
Definitions of this kind state a fact, which is all we 
can require of them ; they serve one purpose, which 
is to avoid a long periphrase. Any other definition 


would lead to the supposition, that the veritable know- 
ledge of the cause of the phenomena observed or of the 
properties recorded, was known ; now, it seems to me 
impossible to affirm the real cause of the facts I have 
observed. I confine myself to stating them without 
forming any hypotheses. 

A medium is, therefore, a person in presence of 
whom ' psychical ' phenomena can be observed. I use 
this word ' psychical ' with regret, because it implies 
a hypothesis. 

As a rule it is necessary to experiment with mediums 
in order to discover them. Their gifts are often latent, 
and only reveal themselves if conditions favourable to 
their manifestation are supplied. This is not always the 
case, and there is generally a chance of coming across a 
medium when experimenting with persons in whose pre- 
sence certain irregular abnormal noises are heard, certain 
movements of furniture are spontaneously produced. 
Such things are far from being as uncommon as one 
would think. This assertion may seem paradoxical, but 
such is not the case. 

I have met with good mediums who were ignorant of 
the existence of their faculties ; yet, when I questioned 
them, I discovered that they frequently heard little 
' raps ' upon the wood of their bed or upon their 
night-table, without attaching any importance to it. 
Others have often noticed the displacement of ordinary 
articles. Sometimes, but more rarely, the facts ob- 
served are so intense that the house appears to be 
haunted. We are often tempted to attribute to fraud 
the phenomena of haunting. I believe accounts of 
this nature are not all false, and I shall perhaps try 


and show this in a future work. We must not reason 
like one of my friends, a man of vast erudition and 
superior intelligence, who one day said to me : ' A 
little girl from thirteen to sixteen years old is always 
to be found in haunted houses — as soon as the little 
girl is taken away the phenomena cease ! ' Granted ! 
Things generally happen thus ; only the little girl 
may not be the voluntary cause of the phenomena : 
she may be the involuntary cause of them, a medium 
in activity, producing supernormal phenomena of the 
nature of those observed at spiritistic seances. 

However, it must be admitted that it is very seldom 
we have the opportunity of experimenting with these, so 
to speak, ready-made mediums. As a rule we must 
try on patiently, until the longed-for phcEnix has been 

At the same time, I ought to point out that the 
chances of encountering a medium will be greater if 
we look for him among nervous people. It seems to 
me that a certain impressionability — or nervous in- 
stability — -is a favourable condition for the effervescence 
of medianity. I use the term ' nervous instability ' for 
want of a better, but I do not use it in an ill sense. 
Hysterical people do not always give clear, decided 
phenomena ; my best experiments have been made with 
those who were not in any way hysterical. 

Neurasthenics generally give no result whatever. 

The nervous instability of which I speak is, therefore, 
neither hysteria, nor neurasthenia, nor any nervous 
affection whatsoever. It is a state of the nervous 
system such as appears in hypertension. A lively im- 
pressionability, a delicate susceptibility, a certain unequal- 


ness of temper, establish analogy between mediums and 
certain neurotic patients ; but they are to be distinguished 
from the latter by the integrity of their sensibilities, of 
their reflex movements, and of their visual range. As 
a rule, they have a lively intelligence, are susceptible to 
attention, and do not lack energy ; their artistic senti- 
ments are relatively developed ; they are confiding and 
unreserved v/ith those who show them sympathy ; are 
distrustful and irritable if not treated gently. They 
pass easily from sadness to joy, and experience an 
irresistible need of physical agitation : these two charac- 
teristics are just the ones which made me choose the 
expression of nervous instability. 

I say instability, I do not say want of equilibrium. 
Many mediums whom I have known have an extremely 
well-balanced mind, from a mental and nervous point of 
view. My impression is that their nervous system is 
even superior to that of the average. 

This will, no doubt, surprise many well-informed 
people. Medical men and psychologists, ill-disposed, 
as a rule, to the study of so-called occult phenomena, 
have the habit of looking upon all mediums as hysterics. 
It suffices to read the works of these savants to per- 
ceive they have never been in the presence of veritable 
mediums. M. Paul Janet, for example — in V Automatisme 
Psychologiqiie — propounds general theories which cannot 
be applied to every case. It is a pity such an eminent 
thinker should not have taken the trouble to make him- 
self better acquainted with the facts. Perhaps he has 
acted like the celebrated Abbot Vertot.^ According to 

1 Vertot, an historian of the eighteenth century, falling to receive, when he 
was ready for them, tlie documents upon which he counted in order to write 


M. Janet's theories, all mediums are on the high road 
to psychological disintegration : the constituent parts of 
their personality are dissociated under the influence of the 
weakening of the normal, personal activity. 

I am sure the individuals observed by M. Janet have 
been very carefully studied by him ; but I regret that 
my learned colleague has not encountered a genuine 
medium. I share his opinion concerning most spiritistic 
mediums ; I have only found two interesting ones 
among them ; the hundred others which I have ob- 
served have only given me automatic phenomena, more 
or less conscious ; nearly all were the puppets of their 
imagination. It is outside spiritistic circles that I have 
discovered the best mediums. 

M. Janet's criticisms are only erroneous because they 
are too sweeping. His conception of psychological 
disintegration is applicable to the greater number of 
cases ; but it does not apply to all. It is a very different 
thing to study a crystal-vision, or an automatic writing 
revealing nothing beyond the tenor of the sensitive's 
memory, or to observe a premonitory vision such as has 
been given me to do. The indication of a future event 
cannot be explained by Janet's hypothesis. It reveals 
especial faculties that I can scarcely consider pathological, 
unless I consider them as such in the same way as one 
considers genius to be a sign of degeneration. 

It is more reasonable to think that our nervous sensi- 
bility will become more and more refined. It is rash to 

his Siege of Rhodes, finished his work for all that ; and when the documents 
were handed to him, he contented himself with saying : ' I am very sorry, but I 
have finished my siege.' He preferred leaving his work imperfect to beginning 
it over again. 


believe that the present human type is the definite end 
of evolution. Our species is only one link in the series 
of beings ; the causes, which have led up to the 
improvement of the human race, are still in activity, and 
it is logical to think there are some natures above as 
well as below the average. The latter represent 
ancestral types — a return to cast-off forms ; the former 
are perhaps precursors, possessing faculties which are 
abnormal to-day, but which may become normal 

I must pause, for I see I am forsaking the domain of 
facts for that of hypotheses ; I hasten to return thither. 
I have pointed out the signs which permit us to suppose 
that a certain given person is a medium ; although 
these signs are not certain, they seem to me probable. 
In reality, there is only one sure way of testing the 
faculties of a medium : that is to experiment with 

It has been observed that certain people do not obtain 
phenomena when they operate alone, but obtain them, 
on the contrary, when with another person. I myself 
have not had occasion to remark this fact, but I have 
often noticed that the presence of certain people favoured 
the attainment of results, while the presence of others 
troubled or stopped it. I have no explanation to offer 
for this fact. Certainly credulity or incredulity has no 
influence whatever on the results of an experiment. I 
have seen people who were very little inclined to allow 
themselves to be convinced make excellent auxiliaries. 
At the same time, I have seen convinced spiritists make 
detestable co-operators. 

It seems as if the faculty of giving forth this un- 


known force were unequally distributed, that it con- 
stitutes a physical property of the organism ; that, in 
relation to it, some persons will be positive and others 
negative, some will emit and others absorb it. 

Hence the importance of the choice of co-operators — 
of the composition of the circle. The number of experi- 
menters is comparatively unimportant ; in principle, the 
more numerous the circle the greater the force thrown 
out. But the presence of a large number of sitters is 
a bad condition for observation ; it also enhances the 
difficulty of the realisation of, what spiritists call, the 
harmony of the circle. But I ought to say that the 
finest luminous phenomena, which I have seen, have been 
obtained when there were from fifteen to twenty people 
present. On the other hand, I have had the opportunity 
of experimenting several times alone with a non- 
professional medium, when I succeeded in seeing faces 
which I recognised. Unfortunately, this medium — the 
only one with whom I have obtained this phenomenon — 
wishes to retain his incognito. 

I think the most favourable number is from four to 
eight. I would urge those who wish to try to experi- 
ment to compose their circle, as far as possible, of an 
equal number of each sex ; it is preferable to alternate 
the masculine and feminine elements. These considera- 
tions lead us to the examination of methods of operation, 
properly speaking. 


Before discussing in detail those methods which appear 
to me to be the surest, I think it well to make a few 


general recommendations. The first relates to the state 
of mind in which it is necessary to experiment. If 
interesting results are desired it is not advisable to 
laugh, joke, or mock at those practices — - however 
ridiculous they may seem — with which I advise com- 
pliance. Act seriously, do not make light of experi- 
ments, the exact import of which we are so ignorant of. 
I think we should also avoid the other extreme, which 
we find in most spiritistic groups, and which impart to 
these seances all the solemnity of a religious service. 

The foregoing might be considered a useless recom- 
mendation, which is not the case. Spiritists, whose 
experience in such matters is not to be disdained, insist 
on the necessity of harmony in the circle, which is, they 
say, an essential condition of success. My personal ex- 
perience confirms their opinion on this point. I have 
often been present at sittings which promised well in the 
beginning, and became suddenly barren because of a 
futile discussion between the sitters. The harmony 
recommended by spiritists is a kind of equilibrium 
between the mental and emotional states of the sitters. 
Each sitter should be animated by the same spirit — I do 
not use this word in its spiritistic acceptation — and seek 
only the truth ; for I take it for granted they will operate 
as I have done. This unity of views, this uniformity of 
desires, this harmony between brains and hearts ensures 
the synergy of the forces which each member of the 
circle develops. 

For there is no doubt that some kind of force is 
emitted, and that if the medium throws off more than 
the other experimenters, an equilibrium between him 
and the other sitters is nevertheless fairly quickly estab- 



lished. The medium takes back from the latter the 
force he has expended. The result is that after a suc- 
cessful seance, the sitters are generally tired. I have 
noticed that certain persons give out this force more 
readily than others, and this perhaps explains a medium's 
preference for certain experimenters as neighbours during 
the seance. We must not attribute this choice to the 
greater facility,which some people might offer for the execu- 
tion of fraudulent phenomena. I have frequently been 
thus chosen, and I beg my readers to believe that I have 
a horror of fraud and imposture. I am also accustomed 
to experimenting ; I feel no emotion whatever ; I keep 
cool and observe with care. I am well acquainted with 
fraudulent methods, and I take good care not to be 
imposed upon. 

I repeat, it is a mistake to attribute to fraudulent 
intentions the preference shown by the medium for 
such or such an experimenter. In reality, it seems 
as though the medium, possessing an organism much more 
sensitive than that of the majority, quickly recognises 
those persons who the more easily throw off the force 
which he requires to retrieve his losses. This more 
rapid emission may be the result of habit, or may even 
depend upon individual constitution. Eusapia quickly 
discerns people from whom she can easily draw the 
force she needs. In the course of my first experi- 
ments with this medium, I found out this vampirism 
to my cost. One evening, at the close of a sitting at 
I'Agnelas, she was raised from the floor and carried on 
to the table with her chair. I was not seated beside 
her, but, without releasing her neighbours' hands, she 
caught hold of mine while the phenomenon was happen- 


ing. I had a cramp in the stomach — 1 cannot better 
define my sensation — and was almost overcome by 

This, for me, extraordinary incident astonished me 
greatly, and since then I have always carefully examined 
my sensations. This examination has the fault of being 
purely subjective, but certain objective realities have 
confirmed it. A special sensation accompanies the 
emission of this nervous force, and with custom the 
passage of the energy expended in a seance can be felt, 
just as the interruption of its flow can be discerned. I 
have questioned several experimenters about this, and 
their observations have often corroborated mine. 

Therefore I think I may say that some kind of force 
is emitted by the sitters, which is elaborated by the 
medium ; that the latter restores his losses at the expense 
of the experimenters, that certain people more readily 
than others furnish the medium with the force he 
requires ; and that a certain sympathy of ideas, views, 
and sentiments between the experimenters is favourable 
to the emission of this force. 

I have no decided opinion upon the nature and origin 
oi this force. I think it is kindred to the energy which 
circulates in our nerves, and which provokes the contrac- 
tion of our muscles. Further on I shall give the 
reasons which lead me to think so. 

A second recommendation, no less important than the 
first, in my opinion, is to treat seriously, and note 
carefully all communications given through the table, 
through automatic writing or raps. 

I now arrive at the examination of one of the most 
curious facts which so-called ' psychical ' experiences 


reveal. To a certain extent the manifesting force appears 
to be intelligent. Nothing permits me to affirm or 
even to think, that the manifestations are due to an 
entity distinct from that of the sitters. It is not my 
province to discuss hypotheses : I confine myself to 
the relation of facts, and in the course of my recital, I 
will point out in detail the circumstances, which permit 
me to signalise the apparent individuality of the mani- 
festing force. As in such matters I have always thought 
it better to preserve an expectant attitude, I have always 
been careful never to slight the communications received 
through the phenomena. I have imposed on my- 
self the habit of treating these manifestations in the 
manner desired by them. Every time I acted otherwise, 
the results were indifferent. 

Generally, the manifestations are attributed to a 
deceased person, known or unknown to the sitters. 
This is not absolute, for I have witnessed the table call 
itself the devil, or even pretend to be a man still alive. 
Automatic writing has been signed by a Mahatma ; but, 
as a rule, it is the soul of a deceased person who claims 
to be manifesting. This usual attribution explains 
spiritistic belief. I have good reason for thinking, that 
the spirits of the dead have had nothing to do with my 
experiments ; but as, in reality, I am ignorant of the 
cause of the phenomena which I have observed, 1 have 
politely accepted the explanation these have given of 
themselves. It is thus we address those whom we meet 
at table d'hote, calling them by the name they give them- 
selves without concerning ourselves as to who they 
really are. 

Therefore, whatever the changeable personification of 


the phenomena may be, my advice is to accept it and to 
heed its observations. We must not suppose the ideas 
expressed are due to the operators' unconscious move- 
ments ; that may be true when the communications are 
obtained through automatic writing, through a table or 
articles with which the experimenters are in contact ; 
but it is certainly not so when they are obtained by 
raps given without any contact whatsoever, as I have 
been able to prove many and many a time. As I con- 
fine myself to indicating the results of my personal 
experience, it is perhaps enough to say once more that 
the methods 1 recommend seem good to me. I have 
always noticed the unhappy consequences of my refusal 
to take into account the spontaneous advice of the 

The most frequently given advice concerns the placing 
of the experimenters. 

However, at the beginning of the sitting, the experi- 
menters may seat themselves as they please. I have 
already said it was generally necessary to place the 
medium's chair against the curtains of the cabinet, and 
to alternate the sexes. The experimenters seated, the 
experiment begins. It is a good plan to choose a 
manager. Nothing is worse than the absence of direc- 
tion. When every one wishes to direct the proceedings, 
confusion reigns in the circle, and results are bad. I 
have been present at seances where every one spoke at 
the same time, each one demanding a different pheno- 
menon. As a rule, on such occasions nothing was re- 
ceived. Some one, therefore, ought to be appointed to 
conduct the experiment, especially to converse with the 
personification if it express a desire for conversation. 


When the sitters wish to make a report of an 
experiment, it is indispensable to intrust one of the 
experimenters with the task of taking notes of the 
incidents as they occur. This experimenter ought to 
form one of the circle. 

It must not be thought that the circle can be modified 
with impunity. My personal experience has shown me 
it is bad to frequently introduce strangers into the circle. 
It should be arranged that a series of at least six sittings 
will be held without modifying the group : that no new 
experimenter will be admitted : and that none of the 
original experimenters will miss even one seance. Then 
if at the end of six sittings nothing has been obtained, 
my advice is to change the circle, to eliminate certain 
elements, replacing them by others. It is preferable to 
change the sitters one by one, and to make a few 
experiments with the circle thus modified before making 
further changes. 

If interesting results be forthcoming, and a desire be 
felt to show them to other people, the new sitters must 
be introduced one by one, and, I repeat, at intervals of 
three or four sittings. Otherwise there would be a risk 
of compromising the success of the experiments. 

The personification sometimes asks for the addition to 
the circle of a certain person ; it is then well to invite 
him to the sittings if circumstances allow of it. 

I now return to the seance which, I suppose, has 
begun. The sitters put their hands on the table ; it is 
not generally necessary to ' form the chain,' that is to 
say, to establish contact between the sitters by linking 
the little fingers. The hands in position, and the room 
well lighted up, we wait. Talking or singing may be in- 


dulged in. The emission of the voice, especially ryth- 
mical emission, is an excellent condition : it is a good 
thing to play some music, organ-playing is particularly 
effective. Why is the production of sonorous rythmical 
waves favourable to these phenomena ? I have no ex- 
planation to offer for this fact, which I am not the only 
one to have observed. 

At the end of a few minutes, the table often seems to 
be agitated. If we are experimenting with spiritists or 
with people accustomed to spiritistic proceedings, the 
table, raising itself, will be seen to strike the floor with 
one of its legs. I advise asking the table if it wishes to 
speak, and to arrange that two raps will mean ' no,' and 
three raps ' yes.' Of course any other numbers or signs 
will do equally well. The table, thus consulted, gener- 
ally replies ' yes.' It can then be asked, if the sitters are 
well placed : if it indicates any other arrangement it is 
well to heed its advice. 

We should then make known to the table what kind 
of results are desired, and point out, particularly, that 
movements with contact, failing to carry conviction, are 
undesirable. I have already said that the personification 
— it is thus I call the entity, whatever it may be, who 
claims to be manifesting — is generally very open to sug- 
gestion ; and it suffices to indicate, at the beginning of 
the experiment, the objection that is made to movements 
with contact to be almost completely rid of them. 

There is no need to point out the object of the above 
suggestion. From the special point of view of the 
observation of material facts, the movement of a table 
upon which the hand rests means nothing at all. I look 
upon these movements as loss of time ; thev are suffi- 


ciently explained by our own unconscious and involun- 
tary muscular contractions. The phenomenon is only 
worthy of a serious man's attention when it is produced 
without contact, or without sufficient contact ; as, for 
example, when the table is completely raised from the 
ground, the sitters' hands resting on top of the table all 
the time. It is better not to experiment than to lose 
one's time in observing movements with contact, unless, 
of course, we are seeking to analyse the tenor of typto- 
logical messages. 

I strongly recommend most carefully avoiding the 
production of automatic movements. I have excellent 
reasons for believing, that the agent which produces tele- 
kinetic phenomena only realises them, if it has accumu- 
lated sufficient force to have acquired a certain given 
tension. I have already pointed out the close connection 
— identity perhaps— between this agent and that which 
causes our muscles to contract ; further on I shall in- 
dicate experiences which give weight to this impression ; 
at present it suffices to mention it, to understand 
why I so earnestly recommend sitters to avoid yielding 
to more or less subconscious movements from the 
very outset. If, as I think, the energy which our 
nervous system elaborates is closely connected with that 
energy, whose effects are seen in telekinetic pheno- 
mena, it is probable that it will only produce these 
curious effects, in proportion as it is able to acquire a 
sufficient tension for its emission. My knowledge of 
physics is too rudimentary to allow me to draw precise 
comparisons between this force and electricity. Never- 
theless, it has seemed to me to present some analogies 
with electricity, although the two are certainly not 


identical ; but the analogies are, perhaps, sufficient to 
enable me by a comparison to make my meaning clearer. 

An electrical conductor, charged with a given amount 
of electricity, will have an electrical density of cr ; if the 
amount increases, this density will be a', and we will 
have cr'xT ; the tension in the first case will be 
T = 27ro-^ in the second T' = 27rcr'^ ; T' will be greater 
than T. 

The conductor will remain charged, as long as the 
tension does not exceed the resistance which the sur- 
roundings offer to the emission of electricity ; as soon 
as this resistance becomes inferior to the tension, there 
will be emission of electricity. 

In the case of a medium, the charge of energy in- 
creases with time and relative immobility. If by making 
unconscious or voluntary movements, experimenters do 
not allow this energy to accumulate, it will never reach 
the tension necessary for exteriorisation. There are, how- 
ever, some reservations to be made ; for I have noticed, 
that when the tension is sufficient, simulated or executed 
movements determine the production of the motor 
phenomenon — just as if the execution of the movement 
appeared to liberate a quantity of energy superior to 
that which was utilised by the working of the muscle ; 
the excess of force was then apparently employed in the 
realisation of the telekinetic movement. 

I have noticed that, every time we allow voluntary or 
involuntary movements, telekinetic movements are diffi- 
cult to obtain. One would think, that the energy which 
determines them can only accomplish them when it 
cannot find a normal outlet ; it has a tendency to expend 
itself normally in ordinary muscular movements : this 


tendency is one of the most frequent causes of involun- 
tary fraud, and the habitual occasion of voluntary fraud. 
We must see that this tendency be checked : this may 
call for some effort of attention at the beginning, but 
' habit is second nature.' 

Things being thus regulated, we wait. A first seance 
is generally without apparent result, unless one has the 
good luck to meet with a medium straight away — which 
is not always the case. Those who seriously wish to 
understand these facts must have a great fund of in- 
defatigable patience. I can guarantee them success 
sooner or later, but I cannot tell how many barren 
experiments may be made before that success comes. 
They must not grow weary ; let them progressively 
modify the composition of the circle until the necessary 
element be met with. They will then be rewarded for 
their trouble. I strongly advise them to avoid profes- 
sional mediums. Some of them are sincere, and I think 
that Eusapia Paladino is of that number. It is true that 
sometimes she produces suspicious phenomena, but it is 
puerile to conclude therefrom that she constantly cheats. 
The suspicious cases I have observed with Eusapia are 
interesting, if studied impartially. They show the role 
which the subliminal conscience— impersonal or bound to 
a second personality — plays in the phenomena, and give 
rise to attractive psychological problems. 

Spiritistic mediums, whose number is legion, form 
another category with whom we should not experiment, 
except for purposes of especial research. Some of these 
mediums are trustworthy, and one of them, Madame 
AguUana of Bordeaux, has sometimes given me interest- 
ing sittings. The phenomena I have observed with this 


medium differ greatly from Eusapia's ; they are of an 
intellectual order, and raise a very complicated problem. 
Madame AguUana's medianity must not be judged from 
seances with her groups. These seances have the religious 
character of nearly all truly spiritistic meetings. It is 
difficult there for an experimenter to observe at his ease ; 
the curiosity of those who seek only the objective 
demonstration of a fact may appear impertinent and 
out of place at such meetings. The faithful have a right 
to look upon such people as intruders. Convinced of the 
truth of their doctrines, they ill brook the open discussion 
of them at meetings, where discussion is not wanted. 
They prefer the discourses of an entranced medium to 
the needless interference of the profane. Their meetings, 
nearly always consecrated to the acquiring of communi- 
cations, have the serious defect of developing unconscious 
automatism in their medium. For me this is a conclu- 
sive reason. 

Madame Agullana, at some seances where only a few 
experimentalists took part, gave proof of the possession 
of certain supernormal faculties, which I have not observed 
in the same degree of intensity at the usual sittings of her 
group. This medium is also entirely reliable, and of 
praiseworthy disinterestedness. She never receives any 
remuneration — an important consideration — for, mediums 
who take fees are more open to suspicion. 

My most convincing results have been obtained with 
persons unacquainted with spiritism and ignorant of its 
practices. Once I discovered a medium most unex- 
pectedly. He sat down with me at a table, invited to 
experiment for the first time in his life. He had scarcely 
seated himself when violent knockings resounded on the 


floor ; this person, honourable, well-educated and intelli- 
gent, is one of the most remarkable sensitives I have met 
with. But as he fears ridicule, has no desire to be 
scoffed at in newspapers, and, moreover, dreads publicity 
of any kind, he does not wish his name to be mentioned. 
These are the results of the malevolent criticisms heaped 
upon experiments of this nature. 

I am sure the number of mediums is much more con- 
siderable than we think ; in a circle of from eight to ten 
people chosen under the condition I have mentioned, it is 
seldom we do not find a medium. 

Of whatever sex, to whatever social status he may 
belong, the medium is a sensitive. This must never be 
forgotten ; and we must never lose sight of the fact, that 
the phenomena will be clearer and better in proportion 
as the medium's confidence and sympathy are won. 

This statement will not surprise those who are familiar 
with hypnotic experimentation, for they know how easy 
it is to induce sleep in a person who lets himself go, 
and, on the contrary, how difl^cult it is in one who resists 
or who mistrusts the operator. I am persuaded that 
the impersonal strata of the consciousness play a role in 
psychical phenomena similar to what they play in the 
phenomena of hypnotism. 

Therefore, I insist on the necessity for due regard 
being paid to the medium. I have had much practice, 
and in all mediums I have met with extreme sensitiveness. 
Those who have come under the refining influences of 
education, instruction, or rank, are the most sensitive — 
* touchy ' ; but this sensitiveness ought not to be inter- 
preted as a sign of degeneracy. Certain contemporary 
savants consider every deviation from the normal state 


as a blemish ! Such a way of thinking implies a veritable 
a ■priori judgment, a begging of the question, which is 
detrimental to the true development of scientific thought. 
The normal man is only a mean term ; there are 
individuals who are inferior to the mean, there are 
others who are superior to it. Nature knows not 
equality. She offers us, everywhere, inequalities, dis- 
crepancies, diversities. It is the illusory unity of our 
own personality, which leads us to unify and to codify 
natural phenomena and even humanity itself. It is one 
of the conditions of the organisation of our Sciences, 
that they become intelligible only on condition of 
adapting themselves to our particular form of under- 
standing. Nothing authorises our supposing that this 
form of understanding has any metaphysical reality ; it 
may only be a subjective condition of our perception. 

It is by an analogous mental process, that we give 
reality to the intellectual or physical type of the average 
man. Degeneracy, which is often a sliding backwards, 
a relapse into inferior types, is a negative deviation from 
the average man : genius is a positive variation. In 
the same way, the nervous system of the imaginary 
average man is but an abstraction ; in reality, the 
sensibility of the nervous system of the different human 
individualities varies immensely. A negative variation 
will give beings who are less sensitive, less delicate 
than those of the average type ; a variation in the 
positive sense will give individuals of a more sensitive 
and more delicate type. To consider either as abnormal 
is only grammatically true : the former are infra-normal, 
the latter are supra-normzl. The first have not reached 
the average level, the second have passed it. 


Therefore, it is not astonishing that a more refined 
sensitivity of the nervous system should have a corre- 
spondingly greater emotivity : ' touchiness ' in itself is a 
function of emotivity. This seems to me to explain a 
fact which appears certain — that the feelings of mediums 
are very easily hurt. A discontented, irritated medium 
is a bad instrument — as I have had occasion to prove 
with Eusapia and many other mediums. 

I have always noticed that discontent and moral 
discomfort, as well as fatigue and physical discomfort in 
the medium brought about failure. 

The advice I give is important to follow. Win the 
confidence and sympathy of the medium by your own 
sympathy, your own deference, your own loyalty. If 
you detect fraud, which seems voluntary to you, do 
not hesitate — after the sitting and at the first favourable 
opportunity — to tell him frankly your doubts and your 
impression. If you perceive an involuntary fraud, put 
the medium on guard against himself, always act toward 
him with sincerity, but at the same time with kindness 
and courtesy. 

As already pointed out, fatigue and physical dis- 
comfort produce the same effects as moral discomfort. 
It is unwise therefore to experiment with a sick 
medium. The results would be bad from an experi- 
mental standpoint, and the medium's health would 
suffer. Carefully avoid experimenting too frequently 
with the medium. Even three sittings a week are 
really more than is desirable. We may experiment 
three times a week when operating with a medium in 
good form, and when the experiments are not likely 
to last for more than two or three weeks. It would 


be bad to experiment so often or for a longer period 
with a young sensitive. Two sittings a week seem the 
safest number to me ; while only one ought to be made 
if the medium follows a trying profession. 

I have seen mediums become ill through experi- 
menting too often. The abuse of experimentation 
rapidly brings on nervous breakdown, and may cause 
serious disorders, of which neurasthenia is the most 
frequent and the least serious. Therefore I have made 
it an invariable rule to experiment with non- 
professional mediums, only on condition that they bind 
themselves to experiment with no other than my own 
circle as long as our series of experiments lasts. I am 
as persuaded of the absolute innocuousness of experi- 
ments prudently conducted, as I am positive of the 
dangers of experimentation when frequent, prolonged, 
or conducted by incompetent persons. I have no fear 
of assuming the responsibility of the first, but for no 
consideration whatever would I endorse, even indirectly, 
the second, and I cannot too strongly recommend the 
same prudence to other experimenters. 

A last recommendation remains to be made ; experi- 
mentation with persons of doubtful morality must be 
avoided. I have no need to enlarge upon the many 
inconveniences to which such an imprudent collaboration 
may expose experimenters. 

To sum up the indications I have just given in 
perhaps too complete a fashion, I will briefly recall to 
mind the conditions which have seemed the best to me : 
sufficient light first of all — the personification must not 
acquire the habit of operating in darkness, for the brighter 
the Hght, the more convincing the experiment ; a small 


room ; a light table with four legs, put together with 
wooden pegs rather than with nails ; a cabinet of soft 
thin curtains ; the experimenters not to exceed as a 
rule eight in number ; the experimenters to agree to 
experiment seriously, without turning into ridicule the 
practices to which they submit themselves. It is a 
good plan to allow only one of their circle to direct 
the seance, to converse with the personification, to 
control the proceedings. They must try and keep 
up a spirit of good understanding, and refrain from 
reciprocally accusing each other of pushing the table — 
novices do this regularly. Discussion should be rele- 
gated to the end, and should never be provoked during 
the sitting. Finally, they should pay great attention to 
the susceptibility of the medium — whoever he may be. 

The greatest patience will be required ; the circle 
should be modified with prudence, and only after a 
certain number of sterile experiments. 


I think it will be useful to indicate what has seemed 
to me the best way of treating the personification — for 
this point is important. 

I give the name of' personification ' to the manifesting 
intelligence, whatever this may be. As previously 
indicated, this intelligence, as a rule, claims to be 
the soul of a deceased person. This is not absolute, 
and the phenomena may personify God, the devil, 
angels, legendary personages, fairies, etc. I need 
not say how far I am from believing in the reahty 
of the being thus manifesting, and 1 have, as I believe. 


excellent reasons for doubting. I have noticed that the 
role played by the personification varies with the 
composition of the circle. It will always be the spirit of 
a dead or living person with spiritists. But the roles are 
more varied if the circle be composed of people who are 
not spiritists ; it then sometimes happens that the com- 
munications claim to emanate from the sitters themselves. 
I am inclined to believe this is the real origin of the 
communications, and that a sort of collective conscious- 
ness is formed. I give my impression with the greatest 
reserve, for, I repeat, I have no decided opinion upon the 
subject ; but the experiments I have made leave me that 
impression, in a general way. This forms part of an 
— as yet — undeciphered chapter on the psychology of 
crowds. I confess I have no explanation to give of the 
action which such a collective consciousness appears to 
have upon matter ; but this difficulty seems to me less 
insurmountable than those attending the spirit hypothesis. 
If we attribute the phenomena to a being distinct from 
ourselves, having a will-power so much the more marked 
because it emanates from a spiritual being more enlight- 
ened than ourselves, I cannot understand the suggesti- 
bility of such a being. Now, I beheve the personification 
is, as a rule, extremely suggestible. I say ' as a rule,' for 
there are occasions when it gives proof of remarkable 
obstinacy : this is the exception, and I ought to say 
that when the personification shows a decided will of its 
own, there is no struggling against it. It is absolutely 
necessary to follow the directions it gives, for, in such 
cases, there is a very good chance of obtaining happy 
results, while certainly nothing will be obtained by 
spurning those directions. 



There are very few people among those unaccustomed 
to this kind of experimentation, who have the courage 
to treat the personification as it desires to be treated : 
this is a mistake. We must take a practical view of the 
proceedings ; we must lay aside all pride and vanity. I 
am as well aware as any one of the comical aspect of a 
conversation between a grave experimenter and a being 
non-existent, and I had much difficulty in conquering 
the repugnance with which this manner of proceeding 
inspired me. I saw therein a kind of jugglery unworthy 
of a cultured intellect. Experience has clearly shown 
me I was wrong, without, however, demonstrating the 
reality of the being personified. Every time I looked 
upon the personification as something not to be reckoned 
with, I have had bad or indifferent sittings. 

This does not mean, that the results have always been 
in proportion to the attention I have paid the personifi- 
cation. Far from it ! The personification is generally 
lavish of promises — excellent things in their way, but it 
would be extremely naive to put absolute faith in what 
it says : we must trust only in ourselves. I do not know 
if Socrates' demon ever played him false : those of his 
species whom I have interviewed struck me as being of 
doubtful sincerity. It would be impossible to commit a 
greater imprudence than to put practical faith in the 
advice of the personification, however good it may seem 
to have always been. 

My personal observations have generally brought me 
into connection with personifications possessing more 
imagination and good-will than respect for the truth. 
They have promised me marvellous demonstrations, 
which I am still expecting, particularly complete materi- 


alisations. Perhaps I am too hard to please, and ought 
to consider myself lucky to have seen what I have seen. 
But we are never content with our lot, and Horace's 
time-honoured words are as true to-day as ever they 

If I strongly recommend people not to abandon the 
conduct of their life or business affairs to the personifica- 
tion, I recommend just as strongly treating the latter 
with the greatest possible attention. We can only form 
hypotheses about its essence ; and the scepticism which 
my observations, taken as a whole, have instilled into 
me, may be ill-founded ; therefore it is better to treat it 
with the same courtesy we show our fellow-experimenters. 
This attitude is prudent ; it is also the most profitable 
one. In practice, I have the same regard for the personi- 
fication as for the medium. I do not call it ' dear spirit ' 
as spiritists do, but I find I do well to make it clearly 
understand what I am seeking ; whatever in reality the 
personification may be, its co-operation seems to me to 
be indispensable. The resemblance between the reaction 
of the personification and that of the subliminal con- 
sciousness is so obvious, that I have no need to enlarge 
upon it. 

In practice, the first manifestation of this — probably 
fictitious — being will consist in a knocking on the floor 
with the leg of the table. It is well to agree upon a 
code of signals. The simplest is two raps for ' no,' 
three for ' yes,' five for the alphabet. 

At the beginning, it will be difficult to avoid these 

^ Qui fit, Mjecenas, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem 
Seu ratio dederit, sen fors objecerit, ilia 
Contentus vivat, laiidet diversa sequentes ? 

Satyr, i. lib. i. i. 


knockings. I have already said it is desirable to dis- 
courage them and to induce the personification to mani- 
fest itself otherwise. It would be well to accept the 
typtological code of signals above mentioned for the 
first conversations, but to abandon it as soon as it has 
been clearly explained to the personification, that move- 
ments with contact are unacceptable. I am, of course, 
speaking under the supposition that telekinetic or para- 
kinetic movements are desired. If the personification, 
at the end of five or six seances of an hour each, does 
not begin to produce the desired phenomena, the circle 
must be modified in the manner already pointed out. 
These modifications ought to be patiently continued, 
until a medium has been met with. The personification 
might be asked to name the sitter who is to be replaced, 
and, if possible, to designate his substitute. Such a 
designation is often very useful. Once or twice I have 
seen the table name persons whom, at the moment of 
the experiment, no one in our midst had thought of — at 
least consciously. Various reasons prevented the given 
indications from being followed, and the experiments 
were discontinued. 

Movements with contact can be eliminated by the 
process I have mentioned ; their elimination, made with 
the consent of the personification, presents no incon- 
venience, unless it be done too abruptly. 

I have already said that the personification is gener- 
ally very open to suggestion. We must remember that 
this is a special kind of suggestibility. In hypnotism a 
commanding tone of voice gives greater force to the 
suggestion ; it is not the same with the personification 
in question, which shows itself rebellious to all imperative 


orders. On the contrary, it readily yields to suggestions 
made with gentleness and persistence. As a rule, I give 
the object I have in view, and my reasons for setting 
aside all phenomena which can be explained by uncon- 
scious muscular action. I repeat, I treat the personifica- 
tion as a co-experimenter. It is seldom that, thus 
exhorted, it does not willingly consent to abstain from 
phenomena devoid of interest, and promise more demon- 
strative ones. I have already said too much faith must 
not be put in such promises ; at least nine out of ten 
experiments will come to nothing, and will have to be 
worked out again on fresh lines. 

But the experimenter's patience will not always be 
tried in vain. Sooner or later he will meet with the 
indispensable medium ; and his observations will then 
be similar to mine. 

The first supernormal phenomena are raps and oscil- 
lations without contact. Sometimes the phenomenon, 
from the very outset, will manifest itself with intensity ; 
this is the exception ; generally the noises and move- 
ments, feeble in the beginning, will grow in intensity. 
As soon as raps without contact have been obtained, 
certain signals must be agreed upon. The simplest way, 
then, is to adopt the typtological code of signals, i.e. two 
raps for ' no,' three for ' yes,' five for the alphabet. The 
phenomena then become very interesting, for when the 
raps are given without contact, the hypothesis of in- 
voluntary movements becomes insufficient to explain 

I have recently received very intelligent communica- 
tions in this way. We must not grow tired of having 
the words repeated. It often happens that letters are 


left out, or that one letter is given instead of another. 
This happens particularly with neighbouring letters. In 
carefully noting down the letters a very clear sense will 
often be found. For example, the raps will give 
Martjn for Martin, Heoriette for Henriette, etc. 
We must not give up as soon as the word seems to 
become unintelligible. Wait until the sentence is 
finished, when it will sometimes suddenly clear itself. 
It sometimes happens that the letters are dictated back- 
wards. When the sentence is incomprehensible, we 
must begin all over again. Even in experiments whose 
aim is to obtain material phenomena, we must not 
refuse to listen to demands for the alphabet, for the 
personification will then often advise on the manner of 

Very often the personification complains of too much 
light, and during several sittings insists upon darkness. 
We must politely resist it, and make it understand that 
psychical phenomena lose much of their value, as soon as 
they cease to be visible. I never hesitate telling the 
personification, that experiments of this kind are not 
convincing when conducted in obscurity, since the good 
faith of the operators is then open to suspicion, and, 
moreover, that phenomena can be obtained in full light. 
These reasons often prevail on the personification not to 
persist in asking for darkness. 

In some cases, it is the personification itself who 
refuses to operate in darkness. It is with personifica- 
tions of this class that I have obtained the finest results. 

When the pseudo-entity asks one or other of the 
experimenters to leave the circle, it is prudent to yield 
obedience to its behest, unless, for various reasons, the 


required elimination be unacceptable. In that case, it is 
as well to explain these reasons to the personification, 
and then it rarely happens they are not accepted. 

Such are the general rules which a fairly long experi- 
ence has caused me to adopt, and I have always had 
reason to be glad of having followed them. In experi- 
ments conducted by me, I have never received obscene 
or absurd communications of which certain people com- 
plain. Reflecting, perhaps, my own state of mind, I 
have generally encountered personifications with scien- 
tific and serious tendencies. 

I have just exposed in detail, and perhaps too 
minutely, the conclusions arrived at concerning the 
method of operation. I now come to the indication 
of the results which I have obtained, and the ascertain- 
ments I have been able to make. 

I will examine in succession raps, movements without 
contact, luminous phenomena, and finally, intellectual 




I WILL not stop to consider movements with contact. 
From a physical point of view they have no serious 
signification whatever. They are so easily explained by 
the combined, unconscious, muscular movements of the 
experimenters, that it is really not worth while stopping 
to examine them. The messages obtained by their 
intermedium may present an internal or clinical interest, 
but in that case they belong to the category of in- 
tellectual phenomena, properly so-called. 

The first physical phenomena, which deserves attention, 
is that of ' raps.' It is generally the one most frequently 
obtained. We must, however, point out that the 
faculties of mediums are not identical : some produce 
chiefly physical, others chiefly intellectual phenomena. 
The former also manifest diverse qualities : some of 
them obtain raps, others movements, others luminous 
phenomena. Still in a general way ' raps ' have seemed 
to me to be one of the simplest phenomena of a material 

If we work with a physical medium of even only 
average force, raps will be heard after the third or fourth 
seance. They will be heard much sooner if we have a 
powerful medium. 

RAPS 73 

As a rule, raps seem to resound on the top of the 
table ; but it is not always so. They are frequently 
heard on the ground, on the sitters, or on the furni- 
ture, walls, or ceiling. The raps I have heard — of 
course I am speaking only of genuine raps — have re- 
sounded near the medium, as a rule, either on the 
table, floor, walls, or furniture in close proximity to 

The simplest way to obtain raps is to proceed as 
I have directed in section ii. chapter i. The experi- 
menters, seated around a table, lay their hands upon it 
palm downwards, with outstretched fingers. This 
method is not, however, to be strongly recommended, 
for raps are easily imitated : and we must never lose 
sight of that fact when appreciating an experiment ; 
further on, I will enumerate the usual fraudulent 
processes. Still, even when the hands are resting upon 
the table, raps can be obtained of sufficient sonority to 
exclude the hypothesis of fraud, if not absolutely, at least 
with much probability. 

I have received raps in full light. I have received 
them so frequently in vivid light, that sometimes I 
cannot help wondering, whether darkness facilitates their 
production to the same extent as it may other pheno- 
mena. It is, however, allowable to suppose, that the 
energy which produces them prefers accumulating force 
in spots that are sheltered from strong light, e.g. under 
the table, or under the floor, or in shaded corners of 
the room. What makes me suppose so is this, I have 
frequently noticed that the raps burst forth under the 
medium's hand, when they appeared to be produced on 
the top of the table. 


Contact of the hands is unnecessary when sitting for 
raps. I have procured them quite easily, with several 
mediums, without such contact. 

When we have succeeded in obtaining raps with con- 
tact, one of the best ways of obtaining them without 
contact is to let the hands rest for a certain time on the 
table, then to raise them very slowly, palms downwards, 
and the fingers loosely extended. Under such condi- 
tions, it seldom happens that raps do not continue to 
be heard for at least a short time. I need not say that 
experimenters should not only avoid contact of their 
hands with the table, but even of any part of their body 
or clothing. The contact of clothing with the table is 
sufficient to produce raps, which have nothing of a super- 
normal nature. We must be careful, therefore, that 
ladies' dresses especially do not come into contact with 
the table ; in taking these necessary precautions, raps 
can be obtained under most satisfactory and convincing 

With certain mediums the energy liberated is great 
enough to act at a distance. I once heard raps upon 
a table which was nearly six feet away from the 
medium. On that occasion we had had a very short 
seance, and had left the table. I was seated in an arm- 
chair, the medium was standing by, talking to me, when 
a shower of raps suddenly resounded upon the table we 
had just left. The experimenters are all personally 
known to me, and I am persuaded that they are above 
suspicion ; but this circumstance is quite insufficient in 
itself to entail a favourable conclusion of the pheno- 
menon, for I cannot too strongly put experimenters on 
their guard against blindly confiding in their neighbours. 

RAPS 75 

Serious experimenters should exclude all susceptibility 
amongst themselves, and agree beforehand that reciprocal 
verification and control will be freely exercised without 
any one taking offence. In the case I am speaking of, 
the table on which the raps were heard was about six feet 
away from the medium and myself; it was daylight, 
towards five o'clock on a summer's afternoon ; the table 
had never been touched by the medium or the experi- 
menters before the seance ; the raps were loud, and were 
heard for several minutes. 

I have had several opportunities of observing facts of 
this kind. Once, when travelling, I came across a 
medium among my fellow-travellers. He has not 
given me permission to name him, but I may say he is 
an honourable, highly-educated gentleman, occupying 
an official position. He had no suspicion of his latent 
faculties before experimenting with me. I obtained 
with him loud raps in buffets and restaurants. It 
would suffice to observe these raps produced under 
the conditions this medium offered me, to be con- 
vinced of their genuineness. The unusual noise 
attracted the attention of persons present and greatly 
embarrassed us : the result surpassed our expectations, 
for the more we were confused by the noise of our 
raps, the louder they became ; it was as though some 
one of a teasing turn of mind was amusing himself at 
our expense. 

I have also heard, when in company with a medium, 
some very fine raps given on the floor in museums 
before the works of old masters, and especially before 
religious pictures. I particularly remember the intensity 
of certain raps I once heard when standing before a 


painting representing the burial of Christ, — the work 
of a celebrated artist. I also heard some fine raps in a 
house which is celebrated as having been the last home 
of a famous writer ; in the room in which he died, the 
raps were so loud as to attract the suspicious attention 
of the guardian. 

I have also heard formidable raps with the two young 
girls, fourteen and fifteen years of age, who were called 
the Agen mediums. I observed these mediums at their 
own home, and I also had them twice at Bordeaux, when 
on each occasion they remained for nearly a month. 
The raps produced by them are interesting, but they do 
not seem to me to be demonstrative. One of these 
girls obtained raps on the floor under her feet ; I verified 
the apparent immobility of the foot while the raps 
were being produced. When the two girls were in 
bed, loud raps were heard near their feet, seemingly 
given on the wood of their bed. We were able to 
observe the apparent immobility of the children. Raps 
were also given on the blankets ; we could feel the vibra- 
tions when laying our hands on the blankets ; the raps 
appeared to be produced under our hands. I have heard 
diverse noises with these children in obscurity, but I draw 
no conclusion therefrom. I found out that they were 
not always sincere, and that they had a tendency to take 
advantage of the confidence and friendliness of the 
people, with whom they were staying. They have simu- 
lated some of their phenomena, especially raps in the 
ceiling. I have never been able to persuade these young 
girls to experiment at a table with sufficient conditions of 
light. They were accustomed to go to bed in order to 
procure their raps. It is true I have heard these raps in 

RAPS 77 

daylight, but I consider other conditions were unsatis- 
factory on these occasions. I regretted exceedingly that 
these mediums showed so little good-will, for even 
putting aside the greater part of the suspicious pheno- 
mena they produced, there were still some which seemed 
to be worthy of further examination. 

I have touched upon my observation of these children 
because it is instructive, although it may be negative 
from my point of view. It shows the inconveniences of 
a bad method of development. I have noticed that 
psychical phenomena has a great tendency to repeat 
itself, to follow a certain routine : they tend to turn 
round the same axis. The children of whom I have 
just spoken had been allowed to acquire the habit of 
going to bed, in order to obtain the sonorous phenomena 
they appeared to produce. Therefore they were able 
to obtain them only under those conditions. They have 
never given me a ' rap ' by means of a table, and yet, I 
am inclined to think that they, or at least that one of 
them, had the constitution necessary for the emission 
of psychic force. 

My failure with the Agen mediums was not altogether 
devoid of interest, for I gained experience, and experi- 
ence is only acquired with time, patience, and multiplicity 
of observations. It is useful to be able to compare good, 
doubtful, and bad seances. 

Among my most doubtful experiences, whose recital 
may be as instructive as the foregoing, I will choose, for 
brief discussion, a recent series of seances which I held at 
Bordeaux. Some of the phenomena I observed seem 
to me difficult to explain by fraud, especially lights which 
floated about the seance-room ; but the greater part of 


the motor phenomena was simulated. The personi- 
fication had the habit of demanding total darkness, and 
as I was chiefly interested in luminous phenomena, I 
saw no inconvenience in putting out the lights. The 
personification, which made this request, was probably 
the personal consciousness of one of the sitters. As 
soon as the lights were extinguished, the raps became 
noticeably louder. Many of them were certainly the 
work of two of our number — I have not been able to 
analyse the mental state of these two young men : one 
of them, who is neurasthenic, acted perhaps uncon- 
sciously. Nevertheless, though I observed the whims 
of these two men with interest and attention, I noticed, 
at the same time, that raps were forthcoming in total 
obscurity when I made imperceptible movements, e.g. 
when I gently blew on the table, or when I pressed 
the hand of one of my neighbours whose sincerity I 
could vouch for. There was always this synchronism, 
which I have already pointed out, between the muscular 
movement and the rap. Without being able to affirm 
it absolutely, I think I may say that my co-experimenters 
were not aware of the slight movements I made with my 
feet, hand, finger, or breath. In these sittings, other- 
wise bearing a most suspicious character, there was, 
therefore, a residue of facts worthy of attentive analysis. 
I was unable to make this analysis, having shortly after- 
wards ceased to experiment with the group, which these 
young men frequented. In some respects I am sorry 
for it, as the observation of this parcel of truth, and even 
of the two fraudulent experimenters themselves, was 
interesting from various points of view. 

I will now reconsider the experiments I first touched 

RAPS 79 

upon — viz. those conducted in full light — the only ones 
upon which I establish my opinion, I have indicated 
as fully as possible the conditions under which I have 
been able to observe raps. The raps most commonly 
heard are those given with contact on the table or floor, 
and then those which are given at some distance from 
the experimenters. 

Sometimes, but more rarely, I have heard them on 
cloth, on the medium's or sitters' garments, etc. I 
have heard them on pieces of paper placed on the 
seance table, on books, on the walls, on tambourines, 
on small wooden articles, and particularly on a plan- 
chette which was used for automatic writing-. I have 


also observed very curious raps with a writing-medium : 
— when he wrote automatically, raps resounded with 
extreme rapidity at the end of his pencil. I can affirm 
that the pencil did not strike the table, for several times 
I very carefully put my hand on the opposite end of the 
pencil, and I was then able to verify that the sound was 
produced at the point of the pencil, the pencil remaining 
all the time, steadily and firmly, on the paper — the raps 
resounded on the wood of the table, and not on the 
paper. In this case, of course, the medium held the 
pencil in his hand. 

Consequently, raps may be given upon various articles, 
with or without contact, and even at a certain distance 
from the medium. I have observed some which burst 
forth as far as nine feet away from the medium. I have 
not obtained any at a greater distance than nine feet, and 
it is not often I have been able to observe them at that 
distance. One of the most curious cases I have observed 
is the following :- — I was experimenting in a room where 


there was a screen. The table was about nine feet 
away from this article. Very clear, distinct raps re- 
sounded on the floor behind the screen. It was broad 
daylight, but the raps were given on the shaded side of 
the screen. 

I have frequently heard raps in the seance-cabinet, the 
medium seated in front of the curtains as indicated in 
section il. chapter i. Thus placed, raps are easily obtained . 
behind the medium : they may be given on the floor, 
the wall, or on the articles placed in the cabinet. They 
are also frequently given outside the curtains, on the 
medium's chair, or on the floor under him. When raps 
are obtained, it is very easy to study them by varying, in 
many satisfactory ways, the conditions of the experiment. 
This is one of the phenomena whose reality has been the 
most clearly demonstrated to me. 

The variety of form the raps may take is not less than 
the diversity of objects upon which they may be given, 
or the places in which they may be heard. The sound 
of the usual rap, on a table, reminds you of the tonality 
of an electric spark, while of course there are many 

In the first place, we must note that the tonality of 
raps difl'ers according to the object upon which they 
resound. It is easy to recognise by the sound if the 
raps are given on wood, paper, or cloth. This is an 
interesting demonstration, because it indicates that the 
sound is produced by the vibrations of the material 
substance. The material molecules of the object struck 
are therefore put into movement ; they are not, however, 
always disturbed in the same way, for the tonality of the 
raps given on the same object is susceptible of great 

RAPS 8 1 

variety. The raps, instead of being sharp and short, may 
be dull and resemble the muffled sound of impact with 
some soft body : they may resemble the slight noises made 
by a mouse, a fret-saw, or the scratching of a finger-nail 
on wood or cloth : they may affect the most diverse 
modalities. Their rhythm is as varied as their tonality. 
One of the most curious facts revealed by the observa- 
tion of raps, is their relation with what I call the 
personification. Each personified individuality manifests 
its presence by special raps. In a series of experiments 
which have now lasted for more than two years, I have 
had frequent opportunity of studying raps personifying 
diverse entities. One of these entities called itself ' John,' 
Eusapia's control, who has retained a friendly feeling 
for me, it appears, ever since my first experiments with 
the Neapolitan medium. 'John' manifests by short, 
sharp raps, so very like the manipulation of the Morse 
telegraph, that my co-experimenters and I wondered 
whether we were not actually listening to the usual 
Morse signals. Unfortunately none of us knew how 
to recognise letters by rhythm as exercised telegraphists 
can. A group, of four individualities, who call them- 
selves the ' Fairies,' manifest their presence by raps 
resembling high, clear notes. These personifications 
are particularly interesting, and, further on, I will have 
occasion of relating how one of them showed herself 
to me. The four fairies are fond of mingling in the 
conversation, approving or disapproving of the ideas 
expressed by the experimenters. They appear to take 
considerable interest in the experiments, and I have 
often noticed that it sufficed — when the raps delayed 
in making themselves heard — to turn the conversation 


upon psychical phenomena, their probable explanation, 
their conditions of realisation, etc., in order to receive 
approving or disapproving raps at once. Sometimes the 
raps imitate a burst of laughter — this coincides either 
with an amusing story related by one of the sitters, or 
with some mild teasing. Another entity personifies a 
man for whom I had the deepest affection : these raps 
are graver in character. This personality seems to have 
the clairvoyant perspicacity and the kindheartedness of 
the man I knew. His intervention manifested itself under 
very curious circumstances, but of too private a nature to 
be made public. I will cite another personification of 
more recent appearance. It gives itself out to be the 
astronomer, Chappe d'Auteroche, and has related most 
accurately the details of his life and death in California. 
As a biographical notice concerning this learned man 
appears in several dictionaries, notably in Larousse, it is 
impossible to affirm that the irruption of this personifica- 
tion is supernormal. The raps which announce his 
presence are dull-sounding, and are given with a certain 
amount of force. In conclusion, light precipitated raps, 
weak but abundant, are the signals of certain personifica- 
tions which we might call mar-joys — troublesome guests, 
whose unwelcome intervention spoils the experience. 

Let it not be forgotten, that if I point out the 
connection existing between the personifications and 
the raps, it does not follow that I accept the reality 
of those personifications. I am making a statement, 
and I fill in all the details, so that experimenters, 
tempted to resume my observations, may know exactly 
what I have observed. So far, the personifications have 
not convinced me of their identity. It is true I act 

RAPS 83 

somewhat indifferently the role of listener to their 
fatiguing and rambling conversations, and that I do all I 
can to bring them back to material phenomena, so much 
more important to me in that they are so much easier 
to verify. Were I, however, not to point out the role 
which the raps play in relation to the personification, I 
would be omitting one of their most significant features, 
and would not be giving their exact physiognomy. 

They manifest themselves, then, as the expression of 
a will and activity distinct from those of the observers. 
Such is the appearance of the phenomenon. A curious 
fact is the result — not only do the raps reveal themselves 
as the productions of intelligent action, they also manifest 
intelligence in response to any particular rhythm or code 
which might be demanded. 

Often the different raps reply to one another ; and one 
of the most interesting experiences one can have is to hear 
these raps clear and resonant, or soft and muffled, sound- 
ing simultaneously on the floor, table, furniture, etc. 

I have had exceptionally good opportunities of study- 
ing very closely this curious phenomenon of raps, and I 
think I have arrived at some conclusions. The first and 
most certain is their undoubtedly close connection with 
the muscular movements of the sitters. I may sum up 
my observations on this point in the three following 
propositions : — 

1. All muscular movements, however slight, are 

generally followed by a rap. 

2. The intensity of the raps does not strike me 

as being in proportion with the movement 

3. The intensity of the raps does not seem to me 


to vary proportionately according to their 
distance from the medium. 

The following are the facts upon which I build my 
conclusions : — 

I, I have frequently found that when the raps were 
feeble or interspersed, an excellent way of producing 
them was to form a chain of the sitters' hands round the 
table. One of the sitters, without breaking the chain — 
which he avoids doing by taking in the same hand his 
neighbours' right and left hands — makes, with his freed 
hand, circular sweeps or passes a little distance above the 
circle formed by the sitters' outstretched hands. Having 
done this, the experimenter draws his hand towards the 
centre of the circle to a variable height, and makes a 
slight, downward movement with his hand ; then he 
abruptly arrests the movement at about five or six inches 
away from the table, when a rap invariably follows, 
corresponding with the sudden cessation of the move- 
ment. It is exceptional when this process does not give 
a rap as soon as there is a medium in the circle who is 
capable, in however feeble a degree, of producing raps. 

The same experiment can be made without touching the 
table, i.e. by forming the chain above the table. One of 
the sitters then experiments as in the preceding case. 

This is not the only observation I have made. I have 
noticed that with mediums of decided power, it was un- 
necessary to adopt any special method for the production 
of raps, as they were forthcoming as soon as any sort of 
movement with hands or feet was executed. With strong 
mediums, it often suffices to move the hand above the table, 
to shake the fingers, to gently press the foot upon the 
ground, in order to determine the production of a rap. 

RAPS 85 

Needless to say with some mediums raps are forth- 
coming without the execution of any movement 
whatsoever : with patience nearly all physical mediums 
can obtain raps without movement. But it seems as 
though the execution of a movement acted in the 
nature of a determining cause : the accumulated energy 
then receives a sort of ^stimulus, the equilibrium is 
disturbed by the addition of the excess energy unem- 
ployed in the movement, and a kind of explosive dis- 
charge of neuric force occurs, causing the phenomenon 
of raps. This is, however, only a working hypothesis. 

The synchronism between the raps and the movements 
made by the sitters is very interesting, as it reveals the 
connection which exists between the organism of the 
experimenters and the phenomena observed. Richet has 
already pointed this out, Eusapia Paladino, unconsciously 
perhaps, employs a process analogous to that which I 
described a little further back. This synchronism may 
give, as it has given, equivocal phenomena, and may also 
give rise to many false accusations of fraud. This is per- 
haps how Dr. Hodgson comes to attribute certain raps 
produced by Eusapia Paladino at Cambridge, to the 
latter striking the table with her head. Of course, I am 
unable to affirm the reality of the raps heard at Cam- 
bridge, seeing I was not present at the sitting of the 
Sidgwick group, I can but say, that the reading of the 
few extracts of the prods verbaux of these seances — most 
incomplete extracts — does not by any means indicate, 
whether the movement of the Italian medium's head was 
the fraudulent physical cause of the rap, or whether this 
movement was but a synchronous phenomenon. 

I cannot help thinking that the Cambridge experi- 


menters were either ill-guided, or ill-favoured, for I have 
obtained raps with Eusapia Paladino in full light, I have 
obtained them with many other mediums, and it is a 
minimum phenomenon which they could have, and ought to 
have obtained, had they experimented in a proper manner, 

I will discuss these seances more fully further on/ 
Therefore, even in the appreciation of fraud, we must not 
forget to take into consideration the curious synchronism 
I am pointing out. 

There is another useful observation to make known : 
namely that raps produced by synchronous movements 
can be produced by the sitters themselves. In many 
cases, I have seen experimenters, non-mediums, obtain 
louder raps than the medium ; the presence of a medium, 
however, is necessary, for, the persons of whom I speak 
obtain no raps whatever when alone. Here is a subject 
for study which has not yet been touched upon. 

Sometimes, in order to obtain raps, it suffices to touch 
the medium, or to make a slight movement with the 
hand above the table, or simply to place the palm of the 
hand gently on the table ; this is an excellent way to 
obtain clear, decided phenomena. The table must be 
moved away from the medium in such a way that contact 
is impossible. The observer puts himself beside the 
medium, takes both his hands in one of his own, and 
moves the other slowly over the table, or even keeps it 
quite still above the table. Nothing is more demonstra- 
tive than this experiment. Let us remember I am 
speaking of experiments made in broad daylight. 

II. Secondly, I have verified that the intensity of the 
raps is not in proportion with the synchronous movement. 

1 See Appendix B. 

RAPS 87 

I am unable to affirm the accuracy of this statement with 
the same confidence as with the preceding one ; but I 
have observed the fact in a great many circumstances. 
Thus, e.g. a very slight movement of the finger will 
sometimes determine a rap, quite as loud as the rap 
determined by the abrupt lowering of the whole arm. 

Again, a simple muscular contraction also will bring 
about the realisation of the phenomenon, without the 
execution of any apparent movement. 

This observation is of special interest, if I am not 
mistaken, for it tends to make one suppose that the 
energy which serves to produce the raps is independent 
of the movement executed in space, but is connected 
with the cause of that movement, i.e. with the nervous 
influx. It would be well if experimenters, more 
competent than I am in physiology, were to study 
these observations carefully ; I sincerely hope this will 
be done some day. Richet might well undertake these 
researches, for no one is more competent than he is to 
analyse the facts I am pointing out. 

I think there is a close connection between psychical 
phenomena and the nervous system. What I have just 
said about the production of raps by the simple contrac- 
tion of a muscle under a voluntary nervous influx is one 
of the reasons upon which I base my hypothesis. 

There are others. I have often questioned mediums 
about their sensations when the raps were being produced. 
They all acknowledged to a feeling of fatigue — of 
depletion — after a good seance. This feeling is percept- 
ible even to observers themselves. I have tried to 
analyse my own sensations when the raps are heard ; I 
have not arrived at any positive result. I cannot say I 


have any decided physical sensation ; but my negative 
observation is only of interest, if compared with the 
diiFerent observations I made, in connection with the 
production of movements without contact. 

One of the mediums, with whom some of my best and 
clearest raps were obtained, tells me he experiences a 
feeling akin to cramp in the epigastric region when the 
raps are particularly loud. This medium is a clever and 
highly-educated man, one quite capable of analysing his 
own symptoms. It seems to him as though something 
emanated from his epigastrum. 

III. Regarding my third proposition — the intensity of 
the raps is not appreciably affected by distance — I have 
found that raps could occur as far as three yards away 
from the medium. The raps given at this distance were 
as loud and clear as those given close to the medium. 
This fact would at first seem to imply a difference 
between the action of psychic force and that of gravita- 
tion, light, heat or electricity, all of which act with an 
energy in inverse proportion to the square of distances. 
However, such a conclusion would be premature, for 
secondary centres of accumulation of energy may be 
formed at a distance from the medium. The term 
' accumulation of energy ' is very vague and may be 
incorrect, but I dare not give a more precise one, and 
confine myself to simply stating, that the existence of 
such centres of accumulation and emission seems indicated, 
by the manner In which the phenomena are obtained. 

I have never verified any serious physical effects at a 
greater distance than that of ten feet. I will add that If 
the phenomena are not more intense, they are at least more 
frequent in the immediate neighbourhood of the medium. 

RAPS 89 

Such are the observations I have been able to make. 
It may quite naturally occur to my readers to think I 
have been the victim of illusion or fraud. This is not 
the case, however. 

There is no illusion, simply because nothing permits 
me to suppose I am the victim of illusion. This asser- 
tion is insufficient, I admit : we are bad judges of 
ourselves. And now I ought to say, that if up to the 
present I have always clearly distinguished between real 
facts and subjective impressions, I present, nevertheless, 
two phenomena which may render my testimony suspect. 
The first is hypnagogic hallucination, the second coloured 
audition. The latter is not very decided ; sound simply 
awakens in me the idea of colour, not the visual sensa- 
tion of colour. My chromo-phonetic scale is A, white ; 
/, black ; £, grey ; £, blue ; on^ green ; er, air, ceil, 
orange, etc.^ This phenomenon was rather marked when I 
was a child ; but, I repeat, the reading of vowels or diph- 
thongs, or the audition of sounds has never awakened a 
complete sensation of colour ; the idea only was evoked. 

On the contrary, hypnagogic illusion is, with me, a 
decided phenomenon. The illusion is exclusively visual. 
I have carefully observed this interesting faculty on 
myself ; it appears to me to have its origin in dream. It 
is a dream begun before sleep has taken complete 
possession of one. The hallucination disappears as soon 
as somnolence ceases. It is with extreme difficulty that 
I am able to retain — even for a second — a hypnagogic 
picture, when I regain complete consciousness ; in spite 
of all my effiDrts, the picture fades away or changes form 

• This scale is applicable to the French pronunciation of the vowels in 


as soon as I fix my attention upon it. I have seldom 
been able to maintain the illusory impression. 

We must not conclude, that I am incompetent to 
distinguish a real phenomenon from a false one, because 
of the existence in myself of these two subjective pheno- 
mena. I have indicated the results of my self-observa- 
tion in order to be thoroughly sincere and complete, for 
I have the keenest desire to be an accurate witness. I 
do not think, however, that the observations I have been 
able to make upon myself are really of a nature to cast 
suspicion upon my faculties of observation. Quite the 
contrary, I should say ; because my personal experience 
enables me to recognise hypnagogic hallucinations, and, 
further on, I will point out some phenomena which seem 
to me to be closely connected with these hallucinations ; 
but as for raps, they have quite a different character, and 
their objectivity appears quite certain to me. 

I will add that every one present can and does hear 
them. Let me recall to mind what I said about the raps 
I heard in railway refreshment rooms, restaurants, and 
other public places. All who were in the same room 
showed, by their demeanour, that they too heard the raps. 
This circumstance suffices to exclude the hypothesis of 
hallucination. I propose registering these raps in a 
phonograph ; this will be the experimentum crucis as far 
as their objectivity is concerned. 

I have no manner of doubt whatsoever upon the 
authenticity of raps, a phenomenon I have heard so 
frequently, and under such diverse and excellent condi- 
tions. I have also taken care to study the different ways 
of simulating raps, — and these are indeed manifold. 

The simplest and most perfect method is to gently glide 
— an imperceptible movement — the finger-tips along the 

RAPS 91 

table. The results are better when the finger is dry, when 
the natural grease has been previously removed by turpen- 
tine or benzine : resin is good, but leaves traces. Under 
these conditions, slight but clear raps may be obtained. 
The movement of the finger is so slow, that, unless fore- 
warned, no one can discover it ; but, with attentive obser- 
vation, a slight vibration of the finger may be perceived 
when the raps burst forth. They can also be simulated 
with the finger-nails, but this process is easy to unmask. 

The trickster finds greater security in darkness, where 
he has resources other than those just mentioned. In 
obscurity he can easily imitate the raps which resound on 
the floor ; e.g. he can produce dull raps by skilfully 
striking his foot against the legs of the table or on the 
floor ; he can simulate the sharp, quick raps by allowing 
his boot to glide slowly along the feet of the table or chair. 

Raps are also very easily simulated by a gentle rubbing 
of clothing or linen, especially shirt-cuffs. We should 
beware of this, for raps can thus be produced by slow 
unconscious movements, and the good faith of the 
experimenters may be involuntarily taken by surprise. 

There is yet another way of obtaining fraudulent raps ; 
this is by leaning more or less heavily on the table. 
When the top of the table is thin, or when the table is 
badly put together, or the parts have too much play, the 
variations of the pressure of the hand determine noises 
which greatly resemble raps. 

Lastly, I have sometimes observed raps produced in a 
way which should be made known. Some people, by 
leaning the foot in a certain way, and by contracting the 
muscles of the leg, can imitate raps on the ground. This 
fact has been indicated especially in connection with the 
sinews of the musculus peronaeus longus. I observed a 


medical student, an incorrigible cheat and neurotic, who 
obtained sounds very similar to authentic raps by leaning 
his elbow on the table, and making certain movements 
with his shoulder. There are also some people who can 
make their joints crack at will. 

But force of habit soon teaches how to ferret out 
fraud, when working in daylight or with good artificial 
light. Besides, the tonality of authentic raps is charac- 
teristic, and the method of simulation indicated at the 
beginning of these remarks, i.e. finger-gliding, is the 
only one able to reproduce some of the raps with even 
a fair amount of exactness. 

It does not seem to me to be possible to simulate raps 
on the table, when they are produced without contact. 
It is easy to localise them, and auscultation of the table 
enables us even to perceive the vibrations of the wood. 
Precautions, easily taken, enable us to make sure of the 
absence of contact and communication between the ex- 
perimenters and the table. 

To sum up, I am certain — as far as it is reasonably 
possible to be certain of anything in such a matter — that 
knockings of variable rhythm and tonality are heard in 
the presence of certain persons — knockings or ' raps ' 
which cannot be explained by any known process. They 
are heard at diverse distances ; they often seem to obey 
the expressed wishes of the sitters, and to manifest a 
certain independent intelligence. On the other hand, 
their production appears to be intimately connected with 
the nerve-energy of the medium and the sitters. 

I think I am able to express the foregoing conclusions 
with certainty and confidence. 





I APPLY the term parakinesis to the production of those 
movements where the contact observed is insufficient to 
account for them. I thus more especially designate the 
complete levitation of a table upon which the sitters 
are leaning their hands ; also the displacement of heavy- 
pieces of furniture which are but lightly touched by the 
medium alone, or with other experimenters. Levitation 
is the raising of an object from the ground without that 
object resting on, or being in any contact whatsoever 
with, any normal support. 

I have frequently observed this phenomenon with 
Eusapia Paladino under satisfactory conditions of light 
and other tests. She has given me several unimpeach- 
able examples of parakinetic levitation, and, I repeat, in 
full light. A detailed report will be found in the 
accounts of seances at I'Agnelas, published in 1896 in 
the Annales des Sciences Psychiques. 

These accounts, however, give only the physiognomy 
of the regular seances. We sometimes improvised 
experiments in the afternoon with striking results ; 
and I remember having observed under these condi- 
tions a very interesting levitation. It was, I think, at 


about five o'clock in the afternoon ; at all events it was 
broad daylight in the drawing-room at I'Agnelas. We 
were standing around the table ; Eusapia took my hand 
and held it in her left, resting her hand on the right-hand 
corner of the table. The table was raised to the level 
of our foreheads ; that is to say, the top of the table 
was raised to a height of about five feet from the 

Experiences like this are very convincing. It was 
utterly impossible for Eusapia, given the conditions of 
the experiment, to have lifted the table by normal 
means. One has but to consider, that she touched 
only the corner of the table to realise what a heavy 
weight she would have had to raise had she done so 
by muscular eflx^rt. Moreover, she had no hold what- 
soever of the table. And, given the conditions under 
which the phenomenon occurred, she could not have 
had recourse to any of the means suggested by her 
critics, such as straps or hooks of some kind. 

In ordinary seances, the table used to be raised to a 
lesser height ; perhaps because we were seated, and could 
not therefore accompany it very far. As a rule, the 
levitation was preceded by oscillations ; the table raised 
itself first on one side, then on the other, and finally left 
the ground. Very often Eusapia, holding her neigh- 
bours' hands, would abandon all contact with the table, 
and make several passes above it, when the table would 
rise, apparently of its own accord. 

I have only obtained parakinetic levitation under 
really good conditions with Eusapia. I have observed 
more decided movements without contact v/ith other 
mediums, but they have not given me levitations 


properly so-called, I have once or twice obtained 
defective levitations with a non-professional medium. 
The table drew near to her of its own accord, and raised 
itself while touching her dress. This fact occurred in 
the light, but the conditions under which I observed it 
were imperfect. I may say the same thing of some 
levitations I obtained at Bordeaux with rather an 
interesting professional medium ; these levitations took 
place in total obscurity, which rendered good conditions 
of control impossible ; besides no one held the medium's 
hands and feet, as had been done with Eusapia. 

In a series of experiments which gave me some results 
worthy of careful examination, I obtained the levitation 
of the table under slightly better conditions. But some 
of the sitters cheated so barefacedly, that I do not 
consider I ought to take any serious notice of the 
parakinetic movements I witnessed there ; although I 
have the impression that everything was not simulated 
which happened in this group. The unsatisfactory con- 
ditions under which I made this series of experiments led 
me to discontinue them. 

I consider that the levitation of the table, even with 
the contact of the hands, is a difficult phenomenon to 
obtain under good conditions of observation. Up to 
the present, Eusapia Paladino is, I repeat, the only 
medium with whom I have been able to verify the 
phenomenon in a satisfactory manner. 

Her method is similar to the one I indicated and 
recommended to my readers. Phenomena is often 
forthcoming when she raises her hand above the table. 
Although I do not consider myself authorised to affirm 
the reahty of the effect this method appears to exercise 


upon the phenomenon of levltation, I indicate it because 
the positive results, which similar practices have given me 
in telekinetic experiments, lead me to think it may also 
answer for parakinetic experiments. Let me briefly 
explain this method. When the experimenters have 
their hands on the table, and the latter begins to sway 
about from side to side as if it were trying to raise itself, 
one of the sitters puts his hand above the table, palm 
downwards, and approaches it to within two or three 
centimetres of the top. Then he raises it very gently ; 
while doing this, the levitation sometimes takes place as 
though the hand drew the table after it. 

I recommend experimenting with as much light as 
possible. We must not forget that nothing is easier to 
simulate than a parakinetic levitation. Force of habit 
will soon teach us how to recognise fraudulent pheno- 
mena of this kind, but it is nevertheless important to 
know beforehand the principal systems of cheating. 
With the reader's permission I will indicate them. 

The position, which the experimenters are obliged to 
assume around the table when they are seated, has the 
consequence of almost completely hiding their feet. As 
soon as the lights are lowered, it is nearly impossible to 
exercise that mutual control which it is indispensable 
should be exercised. Now, when the hands rest a little 
forcibly on the table, it is very easy, especially with a 
light table, to glide the point of a shoe under one of the 
legs of the table and to raise it above the ground. This 
manoeuvre is all the easier, as the swaying of the table 
from side to side permits one to effect the movement, 
without much fear of detection. Needless to say that 
hooks attached to the wrist, or specially contrived 


bracelets, also permit of raising and holding the table in 
the air. But it is easy to protect oneself against fraud 
of this nature. Let every one stand up and join hands 
in the centre of the table; the kind of fraud I indicate 
will then be impossible. I myself have often obtained 
fine levitations in this way, but unfortunately in 

I will point out still another fraudulent process prac- 
tised at times by professional mediums. It consists in 
the following manoeuvre. The medium places himself 
at the narrow end of a table, — in preference a rectangular 
one — he promotes various oscillations, and when he has 
succeeded in raising the end opposite to him, he spreads 
out his legs in such a way as to exercise a strong hold 
over the feet of the table, between which he is sitting. 
Once this pressure is exercised, there is nothing more for 
the medium to do, in order to obtain a levitation, than 
to lean his hands heavily on the table. It is easy to 
understand how the table, maintained in position by the 
trickster's knees, executes a rotatory movement around 
an axis the points of which are fixed by the pressure 
of the knees ; consequently the table, becoming parallel 
with the ground, appears to be abnormally levitated. 
This simulation can be successfully realised, even when 
some one is seated on a chair on top of the table ; under 
the pretence of offering a better condition of control, the 
medium takes the hands of the person on the table, and 
finds in him the point of support required to promote 
the rotation of the table around its axis. We should 
keep this kind of fraud before the mind's eye when 
seeking to obtain levitations, especially if operating in 
obscurity, for then this trick is most easy of execution. 



Once again, I cannot too strongly warn experimenters 
against dark seances : they are absolutely worthless when 
paranormal phenomena are required. These ought to be 
obtained in full light ; under such conditions the levita- 
tion of the table is a verifiable phenomenon. 


I will now relate my observations upon telekinesis, 
that is to say, movements without contact. Telekinesis 
corresponds with V exteriorisation de la motricite^ discovered 
by Colonel de Rochas. It is a phenomenon which I 
have taken particular pains to verify. I have had 
exceptionally good experiences in this phase of mani- 

I verified telekinetic phenomena with Eusapia Paladino 
first of all. When operating with this medium, the 
seance-table was often elevated without contact. As a 
rule, Eusapia formed the chain of hands around the table 
without touching it ; at the end of a few seconds, she 
would make some passes over the table with her right 
hand, retaining her hold of her right-hand neighbour's 
hand at the same time : the table would then leave the 
floor, and remain suspended in the air for several 
seconds. It fell to the ground heavily as a rule. This 
experiment was made several times in my presence under 
satisfactory conditions of light. 

It was not only the table which moved with Eusapia : 
the curtains of the cabinet were often thrown over 
the table, as if a strong wind had blown them out. This 
phenomenon was particularly noticeable at I'Agnelas, 
where we experimented in front of the curtains of one of 


the drawing-room windows. These curtains were made 
of heavy silk material, and nothing was more curious 
than to see them swell out and suddenly stretch over us. 
The manner in which they were thrown over our heads 
was peculiar ; it was as though they had been blown out. 
Without an adapted instrument of some kind, I do not 
think it was possible for the medium to produce this 
phenomenon fraudulently with her hand. I obtained 
the same characteristic movements of curtains with 
another medium. 

With Eusapia, the sitters' chairs were frequently dis- 
placed, shaken, raised, and even carried on to the table. 
I cannot conceive how Eusapia could have obtained such 
results normally, considering the strict test conditions 
exacted at I'Agnelas. We had been courteously ac- 
quainted with the results of the Cambridge seances, and 
our attention had been very specially drawn to the 
fraudulent practices of this medium. One of us held her 
feet and her waist, while the mission of two others, seated 
on either side of her, was to observe her hands. It is 
relatively easy to know if we hold a right or left hand : 
it suffices to carefully note the position of the thumb, 
which ought always to be turned towards the observer if 
the hand be directed palm upwards, and which ought to 
be turned towards the medium if the hand be directed 
palm downwards. It is unnecessary to hold the me- 
dium's hand tightly in order to be aware of its position : 
an ordinary contact, intelligently superintended, is quite 
enough ; it is of course necessary to make sure of the 
simultaneous contact of thumb and fingers. Now, in 
a certain number of cases, the check upon the medium 
was good, when the chair of one of the sitters was carried 


on to the table. It is also to be noted, that Eusapia 
would have been forced to lean forward in a very- 
marked manner, in order to seize her neighbour's chair 
and carry it on to the table ; the inclination of her body 
would have been easily perceived, especially as the chair 
was first of all drawn away from under the experimenter 
and then raised on to the table, manoeuvres which occu- 
pied some time. 

Other phenomena of the same kind were, however, 
produced in a more conclusive manner. I remember 
having seen the lid of a trunk, which was placed behind 
the experimenters and to the left of Eusapia, open and 
shut of its own accord. 

Lastly, I obtained with this medium a very convincing 
phenomenon, which M. de Gramont had already verified 
at I'Agnelas after my departure. This is the movement 
at a distance of the scale of a letter-balance. I made the 
experiment at Bordeaux in the presence of a few intel- 
ligent and educated persons. We operated in a light 
which was strong enough to enable us to read the faintly 
marked divisions on the scale. This object had just 
been purchased by me, and I had drawn it from its 
wrappings just prior to the experiment. Before our 
eyes Eusapia repeatedly made the scale go down by 
raising and lowering her hands, palms downwards. 
Eusapia's hands were from three to five inches away 
from the letter-balance ; she performed the movements 
described without abandoning her neighbour's hands. 
We obtained the lowering of the plate of the balance 
several times, each time varying the position of the 
medium's hands, placing them in front of the apparatus 
in such a manner as to form a triangle of which the 


plate was the apex, and bringing the medium's hands 
together so that the angle at the apex became very 
acute. This was done in order to obviate the possibility 
of the medium producing the effect by means of a hair 
or thread between her fingers. I must point out, 
however, that a hair or thread would have been visible. 

By turning her hands round, that is to say by direct- 
ing them palms upwards, Eusapia raised the plate of the 
letter-balance to its full extent when it was weighed 
down by a pocket-book. By measuring the oscillations 
of the index-needle, we were able to ascertain that the 
force employed was at least one ounce superior in weight 
to that of the pocket-book. 

The facts I verified with Eusapia, I was able to prove 
again through other mediums, non-professional. On 
two occasions, I obtained fine telekinetic phenomena in 
a public restaurant. I was in the company of a good 
sensitive, a highly intelligent man, but one who knew 
little or nothing of spiritism. The first time I was 
breakfasting with him ; we were seated at a fairly large 
table, near which was a small round one ; the cloth which 
was covering our table touched the small one. We 
first heard several fine raps, and then the small table 
drew gradually nearer till it touched the big one. There 
had been a displacement of eleven inches. It was 
broad daylight, and the conditions under which I ob- 
served this fact completely exclude — at least in my 
opinion — the hypothesis of fraud. Another time we 
were lunching together. I was seated at the left-hand 
side of the medium, and we were alone at our table. 
Two chairs were facing us, while a third one was on the 
medium's right, facing another table. The chair to the 


right of the medium approached the table, and then 
retreated at our request. The ch:x\r facing me reproduced 
the same movements. The light was so bright that I 



Maxwell. Medium. 

was able to observe the hands and feet of the medium 
with the greatest ease. 

These plain, decided, easily observable, and well- 
observed facts are among the most convincing I have 
received. The medium's position, the bright light, the 
full liberty of verification which was permitted me, 
rendered these observations extremely convincing to me. 
The measuring of the distances between the table and the 
object in movement excludes the hypothesis of halluci- 
nation on my part. I therefore consider that all possi- 
bility of fraud or hallucination was out of the question. 

Previous to the movements, I had established contact 
with the chair in front of me, by means of one of those 
wooden holders to which newspapers are attached in 
restaurants and buffets. The chair in approaching us 
pushed the newspapers towards us, and we were thus 
enabled to watch the horizontal progression of the chair. 


The distance travelled by the chair was from seven to eight 
inches. The objects moved in a jerky, irregular manner. 
I have been able to observe telekinetic table move- 
ments on many occasions, and always in broad daylight. 
Perhaps the most curious movement I have seen is 
the following : A lady and gentleman once did me the 
honour of inviting me to witness certain phenomena 
which they were often able to obtain when experimenting 
together ; these phenomena consisted in slight displace- 
ments of a table. They reproduced these movements 
without contact in my presence. I then begged them 
to form a chain with me around the table, always with- 
out touching it of course. This table, a light tripod, 
the top of which measured eleven inches by twenty- 
one inches, was in contact with the dress of my 
hostess. After having executed several diverse gliding 
movements — approaching or retreating at request — the 
table began to raise itself and to strike the floor with 
one of its feet. We spelt out the alphabet, and 
received a typtological communication. During this 
performance, the table was in contact with the dress 
only. The dress did not hide the feet of the table, the 
contact was simply lateral, and the table could be seen 
in entirety. It was daylight, and it would have been 
easy to detect the slightest movement of the dress. 
Moreover, the table raised one of its feet which was 
not in contact with the dress. I did not try — because I 
did not wish — to remove the contact of the dress, for I 
had often observed this bulging out of women mediums' 
dresses : as soon as the garment comes near the table 
and contact is established, the movement is produced. I 
have often checked the position of the medium's feet, 


while the phenomenon was happening, and I have been 
able to verify that the slight contact was with the dress 
only, and not with the feet. This curious fact has 
already been observed by Richet and others, in connec- 
tion with Eusapia Paladino. I will add that I have 
often obtained movements without any contact what- 
soever, even that of garments. 

Another medium has enabled me to verify telekinetic 
movements of curtains. They were less violent than 
with Eusapia, but more decided, and enabled me to make 
some observations which are not altogether lacking in 
interest. I was once experimenting with the medium in 
question, in subdued light, contrary to my usual custom. 
It was in the daytime, but we had closed the shutters of 
the window and drawn the curtains together, in order 
to form a kind of cabinet. We were trying to obtain 
luminous phenomena, which, however, were not forth- 
coming. The medium had his back turned towards the 
curtains. I noticed that the curtains stirred now and 
then. I drew the attention of an experimenter to this, 
and at first we attributed the movement to a slight 
draught. We drew the curtains together completely, 
and then observed that only the curtain close to the 
medium stirred. It was light enough to see the hands 
and feet of our medium, and we were able to convince 
ourselves, that the movements were not normally pro- 
duced by him. We then noticed that the movements of 
the curtain corresponded with our movements. The 
experiment was repeated with success twenty times. We 
varied the movements and were able to observe, that the 
maximum disturbance of the curtain occurred, when the 
medium rubbed the head of one of the experimenters. 


The curtain was not blown out over the table as with 
Eusapia. The movements simply consisted of a species 
of undulatory trepidation, whose amplitude did not surpass 
five or six inches : it was like the sinuous undulations of 
a rope, when shaken at one of its extremities. 

Such are the principal facts which I have been able to 
observe. I will not have much to say concerning the 
method of operation, for I have already sufficiently 
indicated how I proceed habitually. I have, neverthe- 
less, two important remarks to make. 

The first is, that the presentation of the palm of the 
hand towards the object, which we wish to displace, 
often brings about the movement. 1 proceed in the 
manner I have indicated for a parakinetic levitation, but 
instead of presenting the palm of the hand to the top 
of the table and then drawing it slowly away, I direct 
it towards the side of the table, and I act as though I 
wished to attract or repulse the table. I have noticed 
that this practice gives good results. 

The second remark I wish to make is, that when 
desirous of obtaining movements without contact, it is 
helpful to form the chain around the table by holding 
each other's hands. Still, I do not think this precaution 
is indispensable, for I have obtained telekinetic move- 
ments without its aid. It seems to me, however, that 
it is a method to be recommended, especially in the 
beginning of the seance. 

I have just said that the chain of hands is not indis- 
pensable. And, as an example, I remember having 
once verified some telekinetic movements which inter- 
ested me very much. I was conversing with a private 
medium : by the way, all the telekinetic phenomena of 


which I have been speaking, save those obtained with 
Eusapia Paladino, have been obtained with private 
mediums. In the course of our conversation we pro- 
nounced the name of a personification, whose irruption 
in our midst had been as sudden as unexpected. This 
personification behaves like a cautious and well-advised 
experimenter, and conducts himself as, I think, I would, 
if 1 co-operated on the other side in the experiments I 
am speaking about. Hardly had I pronounced this per- 
sonification's name than the table began to glide gently 
across the floor. We questioned it, and according to our 
request, it approached or retreated from the medium. 
The movements of the table alternated with raps. I 
content myself with merely stating this curious fact, 
without allowing myself to draw any conclusions there- 
from ; it appears to me to offer a striking example of 
that apparent spontaneity, which psychical phenomena 
sometimes present. 

From the account I have just given of some of my 
experiments in parakinesis and telekinesis, we may 
deduct the following propositions : they resume, fairly 
exactly, the points of fact I have been able to ascer- 
tain :— 

I. There is a certain correlation between the move- 
ments of the medium or assistants and the movements 
of the objects used in experimentation. 

II. Certain peculiar sensations accompany the emission 
of the force employed. 

III. That force has a probable connection with the 
organism of the assistants. 

I. Nothing is easier to verify than the correlation 
existing between the movements of the medium or 


sitters, and those of the object with which we are ex- 
perimenting. I may say, that almost without exception, 
the movements of the operators are, in a way, reflected 
by the table. I have already pointed out, that move- 
ments of attraction or repulsion attracted or repulsed 
the table. I have remarked this peculiarity on several 
occasions. When, in a seance, the presence of a certain 
force manifesting itself in raps and oscillations without 
contact is established, it often suffices for one of the 
sitters to direct his hand towards the table to bring 
about its immediate displacement. By proceeding in 
the manner indicated further back, I have noticed that 
complete levitations could be obtained ; but it is then 
necessary for the sitters to put their hands on the 
table, while one of their number puts one of his hands 
in the centre of the table, and palm downwards slowly 
raises his hand. Levitations without contact can certainly 
be obtained by the same method, by simply forming a 
chain of hands around the table without touching it ; 
but the results are less difficult to obtain when the hands 
are laid on the table. 

Levitation seems to me more difficult to realise than 
gliding movements. I have frequently obtained the 
latter without contact, by directing the palm of my 
hand towards the table, and trying to draw it after me 
as though an elastic thread united the table to my hand. 
Under these conditions the table seems to obey a kind 
of attraction. 

I think I have some observations to make on this 
subject, but I cannot formulate them with much certi- 
tude, and I only point them out in order to provoke — 
if that be possible — the examination of these facts by 


persons more competent than I am. First of all, it is 
not always the medium who obtains the best results in 
the manoeuvre 1 indicate. I have seen some experimenters 
obtain more marked movements than the sensitive 
himself. This is not generally the case, but the fact 
does not appear to me to be rare. It is rather discon- 
certing, because those persons, who in a seance manifest a 
force relatively greater than the medium's, cannot obtain 
any supernormal fact when alone ; the presence of a 
medium is necessary for the energy of their action to be 
manifested. I wonder if this be not due to the medium's 
inexperience. I never observed this pecuHarity in 
seances with Eusapia, although the sitters could, in her 
presence, produce certain phenomena themselves. I 
have only noticed it with the non-professional mediums, 
who kindly consented to allow me to experiment with 
them. Nearly all of them had no notion whatever of 
psychical experimentation ; most of them, were alto- 
gether ignorant of the practices of spiritism ; and many 
were frightened by their first phenomena. These 
mediums have not the tranquillity and presence of mind 
of myself and friends, whom a long experience has freed 
from all kinds of bias. Perhaps, therefore, they do 
not operate under such good conditions as we do, or as 
more experienced mediums would. Whatever may be 
the reason, I note the fact observed. 

A second interesting observation I have to make is 
the unequalness of the radiations or emanations which 
appear to issue from the back or palm of the hand. 
The action of the palm is decidedly more energetic than 
that of the back ; as an example, I will recall to mind 
the experiment with the letter-balance. To lower it. 


Eusapia lightly moved her hand from top to bottom, 
palm downwards ; to obtain the contrary movement, 
she turned her hand in the opposite direction. There 
are certain obscure peculiarities to elucidate in this curi- 
ous unequalness. It is desirable to study it, for it is 
one of the rare points where experimentation is really 
possible, in the studies of the kind I am setting forth. 
It is to be noted, and this is I think a very important 
consideration, that the innervation of the palm of the 
hand is much more abundant than that of the back. 

In what concerns movements without contact, I have 
not noticed any unequalness of action between the two 
hands : the left hand appears to act quite as well as the 

In the third place I have verified a correlation, between 
the intensity of the muscular effort and the abnormal 
movement. This is an interesting observation, for I 
have not observed it when studying the phenomenon of 
raps. As an example, I will cite an experiment which I 
have often made. When the liberated energy is in- 
sufficient to provoke movements, and the existence of a 
certain quantity of force has, nevertheless, been ascer- 
tained, if the manoeuvre of attraction does not succeed, 
we can sometimes provoke the movement by shaking 
the hand about at a certain distance above the table. 
This rapid movement of the hand and arm appears to 
me to develop a maximum of telenergy. 

Again, rubbing the feet on the floor, rubbing the 
hands, the back, the arms, in fact any quick or slightly 
violent movement appears to liberate this force. These 
manoeuvres often bring about the realisation of the 
desired phenomenon. It is evident that such manoeuvres 


must be employed with discernment ; some of them 
might hamper observation : e.g. rubbing the feet on the 
floor if telekinetic movements of the table be desired, 
for this would render it difficult, if not impossible, to 
check the position of the medium's feet. 

The breath appears to exercise a great influence ; 
things happen as though in blowing on the object, 
the sitters emitted a quantity of energy, comparable to 
that which they emit, in quickly moving their limbs. 
This is a strange peculiarity, one which is apparently 
very difficult to explain. 

A more thorough analysis of the facts permits us to 
think, that the liberation of the energy employed depends 
upon the contraction of the muscles and not upon the 
executed movement. The fact which reveals this peculi- 
arity is easily observed. When the chain round the 
table is formed, a movement without contact can be 
procured by tightly squeezing one another's hands, or by 
resting the feet very firmly on the floor : the former is 
by far the better process. The limbs have executed an 
insignificant movement, and we may say that the muscular 
contraction is about the only physiological phenomenon 
visible to observers ; it is nevertheless sufficient. 

These ascertainments all tend to show that the agent, 
which is the determining cause of movements without 
contact, has some connection with our organism and 
probably with our nervous system. 

Other reasons also tend to prove this. Thus it is 
that the number of experimenters influence the pheno- 
mena to a certain degree. The levitation of a table is 
easier to obtain with five or six persons than with one or 
two. It is very difficult to arrive at any precise con- 


elusion on this point, for the observations I have read 
are contradictory. In so far as my personal experience 
is concerned, I have the impression that, within certain 
limits, the quantity of force liberated varies in direct 
proportion with the number of experimenters. Never- 
theless, a certain number should not be surpassed if we 
wish to experiment under good conditions. But I think 
that the diminution of results may have other causes than 
the diminution or increase of the number of sitters. I 
believe that if we could assemble a number of homogeneous 
elements, we would obtain excellent results. This would 
explain the so-called miracles, which are said to have oc- 
curred in certain primitive congregations, where beliefs 
were strong and convictions profound. This unity of 
belief and ideas, and the material and moral regimen, to 
which every member of the community submitted, deter- 
mined that harmony which is a fundamental condition for 
the production of good phenomena. It is in this way that 
historical and contemporary ' miracles ' may be explained. 
But in the present state of society it is very difficult 
to unite six or eight persons having identical ideas and 
submitting themselves to an identical discipline ; and I 
have always thought that the harmony of a circle was 
more important than the number of its members. 

I have just pointed out in detail certain purely physical 
processes for provoking the production of paranormal 
phenomena. They give good results when the force is 
feeble ; but as soon as the force is abundant, the simple 
manifestation of the will is sometimes sufficient to decide 
the character of the movement ; e.g. the table will move 
in the direction asked for by the sitters. Things 
then happen as though the force was handled by an 


intelligence distinct from that of the experimenters, I 
hasten to say, that this seems only an appearance to me, 
and that I have observed certain similarities between 
these personifications and secondary personalities of 
somnambulism. But 1 would not be giving an exact 
physiognomy of the facts observed, did I not lay stress 
upon this curious trait of their character. 

In this apparent union between the indirect will of the 
sitters and the phenomena there is a problem, the solution 
of which escapes me so far completely. I feel that there 
is nothing of a supernatural order in this union : I also 
feel, that the spirit hypothesis is altogether inadequate to 
explain it ; but I am unable to formulate any explana- 
tion. This is one of those points of fact which I confine 
myself to pointing out. 

The attentive observation of the relation, existing 
between the phenomena and the will of the sitters, 
permits of the demonstration of other facts. Firstly, 
the bad effect of discord between the sitters. It often 
happens that one of them expresses a desire to obtain a 
certain given phenomenon ; if the requested phenomenon 
be not immediately forthcoming, the same experimenter 
will demand a different one. Sometimes, several of the 
sitters ask for several contradictory things at the same 
time. The confusion which reigns in collectivity is 
generally manifested in the phenomena, which, in their 
turn, become vague and confused. 

Still, things do not altogether happen as though the 
phenomena were directed by a will, which was only an 
echo of the will of the experimenters. The phenomena 
often manifest great independence, and refuse decidedly 
to yield to the desires of the experimenters. By admit- 


ting even Janet's hypothesis on the secondary personalities 
of mediums, stretching it from cases of somnambulism to 
cases of telekinesis, a fact which is very curious from a 
purely psychological point of view is to be met with 
occasionally : the secondary personality sometimes mani- 
fests itself at the same time as the normal personality, 
and a conflict between them is the result. I have seen 
this with Eusapia, when, for example, she wanted to 
drink, and the table violently opposed itself to her 

To sum up my observations upon the first of my 
conclusions : There is a close and positive connection 
between the movements effectuated by the medium or 
the sitters, and the displacement of articles of experi- 
mentation ; there is a relation between these displace- 
ments and the muscular contractions of the experi- 
menters ; a probable relation, whose precise nature I 
am unable to state, exists between the will of the 
experimenters and paranormal movements. 

II. Certain peculiar sensations accompany the emission 
of the force employed. I hesitated before deciding to 
formulate this conclusion, because, notwithstanding the 
great number of observations I have made, I am only 
able to present this proposition with much reserve. The 
sensations I am going to describe are purely subjective, 
and may consequently give rise to all sorts of error and 
illusion. Some of these sensations may be explained by 
fatigue or prolonged immobility. In spite of these 
causes for error, which are, 1 acknowledge, very 
numerous and very real, it seems to me, that the 
impartial analysis of the facts observed tends towards 



showing that illusion, error, fatigue, and immobility 
do not explain them all. 

I will put aside visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, 
gustatory sensations ; these are, moreover, very rarely 
observed. I will limit myself to examining certain 
ill-defined sensations, which appear to depend upon the 
general sensitiveness, and not upon the sensory organs 
properly speaking. From the observations I have made, 
I am inclined to discern five principal sensations : — 

(^) The sensation of cool breezes, generally over 

the hands. 
{b) The sensation of a slight tingling in the palm 
of the hand, and at the tips of the fingers, 
near the mounts, 
(c) The sensation of a sort of current through the 

{d) The sensation of a spider's web in contact with 
the hands and face, and other parts of the 
body — notably the back and loins. 
{e) The sensation of fatigue after strong phenomena, 
(rt) The first is very frequently mentioned by experi- 
menters. It is an impression of coolness, or even of 
cold, which they generally feel over the hands. I have 
not been able to settle with certitude, if this sensation be 
purely subjective, or if an element of real objectivity be 
blended with it. It is at times so marked, that I have 
some difficulty in believing that it is altogether 
imaginary. Though it often precedes the production of 
a motor phenomenon, it more frequently happens, that 
the sitters feel it without any paranormal fact being 

This peculiar sensation is similar to what is felt in 


seances with Eusapia Paladino, when approaching one's 
hand to the scar on her head. What she calls the sojfio 
freddo is very decidedly felt : it is as though a current of 
air were escaping through the scar. The reality of this 
sensation with the Neapolitan medium makes me think, 
that the cool breeze mentioned in other seances may 
have some objectivity. It is to be noted, that I have 
observed this phenomenon with mediums, who had no 
familiarity whatever with spiritistic seances. 

Sometimes, the sensation of coolness or of cold extends 
to the whole body. Mediums are more likely to feel 
this than other experimenters. This sensation can bring 
on veritable shivering, in which case it often coincides 
with a phenomenon. 

(Jy) A tingling sensation may seem to be solely due to 
immobility, or to other ordinary causes, such as pro- 
longed contact of the fingers with the table. I recognise 
that this explanation is true nine times out of ten ; but 
in certain cases it has appeared insufficient to me : either 
it was felt too soon after the debut of the sitting to be 
due to fatigue, immobility, or to prolonged contact, or 
its coincidence with certain well-observed phenomena 
was too frequent to be fortuitous. Therefore it appears 
to me probable, that there is some connection between 
this tingling sensation and the emission of the force 

What is the precise nature of this tingling sensation .'' 
I have carefully questioned those who felt it — and nearly 
all experimenters feel it sooner or later — and compared 
their impressions with mine. All the descriptions tally : 
it is the sensation of a slight pricking, having its seat in 
the palm of the hand and its maximum intensity on the 


mounts at the finger-tips. Some persons compare it to 
the sensation one feels, when hghtly touching a mass of 
pin-points or a stiff brush : others say it seems to them, 
as though their hands were pierced by small holes, 
through which something was escaping. The latter 
sensation is rarer than the former. This tingling 
sensation has no resemblance whatever with the 
tingling of a benumbed limb. 

The experimenters feel these impressions at the 
beginning of the sitting ; they do not always indicate 
a good seance, but I have noticed that if phenomena are 
going to be received at all, these sensations are generally 
perceived beforehand, although, as I say, they can also 
be felt when phenomena are not forthcoming, 

(c) The sensation of a current passing through the body 
is less easy to describe. It is of a less precise nature 
than the preceding one. The majority of persons I 
have questioned, compare it to the sensation which is 
produced on them by the passage of an electric current. 
To me this assimilation has generally appeared approxi- 
mative. I have sometimes felt this sensation, and can 
only compare it to a very slight shiver, a kind of feeble 
vibration, running through the back and arms, especially 
perceptible to me in my right arm. This sensation, as I 
feel it, is not continuous ; it takes the form of waves 
rapidly succeeding each other. It is feeble, and, as a 
rule, I can only perceive it by paying great attention to 
it ; in a few rare cases I have felt it very distinctly. 

I think that in a great number of cases this sensation 
is purely subjective, but — as with cool breezes — it does 
not always seem to be so. It generally accompanies the 
production of phenomena relatively feeble and con- 


tinuous, such as raps and gliding movements. I have 
not always felt it when strong phenomena were forth- 
coming ; but then I was not always in contact with 
the medium, and often, though I did not feel any- 
thing, the medium mentioned having other curious 
sensations, which I shall speak of presently. Besides, 
the chain must be formed in order to perceive this sensa- 
tion of a current with all the accompanying features I 
have just described ; but it is not necessary for the 
medium to be in the circle. This sensation can also be 
felt by simply leaning the hands on the table without 
joining them. This case bears an analogy to the 
preceding one, if we suppose that the table, serving as 
a condenser for the emitted energy, suffices in itself to 
establish a sort of indirect contact with the experi- 
menters. And things seem to happen as though this 
were really the case. 

If that be so, we can at once understand the relation, 
which appears to exist between the mediate or immediate 
contact of the observers' hands and the sensation of a 
' current.' There is something here which is very 
obscure and very delicate to analyse, but which, if the 
fact be real, appears to me to indicate the circulation 
of some thing or other. It is probable that what 
circulates is precisely the energy used for the production 
of the abnormal facts I am relating. True, this is only 
a hypothesis, and I again beg my readers' pardon for 
having allowed myself to be drawn into the field of 
conjecture. I hasten to return to facts. 

If the sensation of the ' passage of the current ' be 
feeble, it is not so with its abrupt interruption. When, 
for some cause or other — a slight discussion between the 


operators, the medium's emotion, a sudden breaking of 
the chain — the sensation of the passage of the current is 
interrupted, the interruption is easily felt. It may even 
cause a sensation of sudden indisposition, if the interrup- 
tion coincide with the phenomenon in course of pro- 
duction. This is a curious fact, and one easily 
observable. The sensation of the breaking of the 
current is distinctly felt ; and it is this which makes 
me think, that the feeble impression of the passage of 
the current is not altogether imaginary. 

The sensitiveness of different experimenters varies 
very much. Some are most susceptible to these in- 
fluences, others are not at all so, or only very slightly. 
I remember having recently assisted at a seance with 
one of my friends, a man well known in the fencing 
world. My friend, although he is still young, had 
an attack of apoplexy some years ago. He recovered, 
and has only retained a very slight hemiparesis of the 
right side. Medically, he comes under the category 
of hemiplegics. He appears to be extremely sensitive 
to the impression I call ' the passage of the current.' 
He compares it to the sensation, which the passage of 
an electric current produces upon him. He assured 
me that his right arm was affected by it and benumbed. 
He told me that he experienced a similar effect when 
passing near powerful dynamos ; he could not, for 
example, stay long in the gallery of machines at the 
French Exhibition in 1900, because of the generators 
of electricity which were installed therein. He had a 
disagreeable sensation in the right arm ; the uneasiness 
extended from the arm to the neck, and he was obliged 
to leave the neighbourhood of these electrical machines. 


In the course of the seance — a very uninteresting one, 
by the way — he declared that he felt an identical sensa- 
tion, and he was even compelled to leave the circle, 
I relate this observation, for the person who made it 
is an intelligent man, and quite capable of correctly 
analysing his own sensations. It is needless to add 
that he was cool and self-possessed, and observed every- 
thing free from bias, one way or another. 

The medium's sensations are generally much more 
accentuated than those of the sitters. Sensitives say, 
they distinctly feel the passage and the interruption 
of the current ; I think it is a question of degree : 
their sensations differ from the sensations of other 
experimenters only in degree. There is, nevertheless, 
a category of sensations, which is almost exclusively 
felt by the medium when a fairly strong movement is 
forthcoming : this is the sensation of a sudden emission 
of force. One of the most intelligent mediums I have 
come across describes it, as a sensation of cramp in the 
epigastric region ; it seems to him at times as though 
he were on the verge of fainting. I have indicated 
a similar sensation, which I myself once felt during 
a levitation obtained with Eusapia Paladino. I felt 
the same thing on other occasions, but not with the 
same intensity. I remember, for example, an experi- 
ment made under the following conditions : We were 
holding a seance on a winter's evening ; the light on 
this occasion, though feeble, was sufficient. We had 
covered the table with a woollen cloth which fell over 
our knees, and protected us slightly from the cold. 
Upon the seance table we had placed a smaller one 
upside down. We touched the edge of the smaller 


table. Having noticed that the small table appeared 
to be trying to raise itself on one side, J endeavoured 
to increase the amplitude of the movement by violently 
contracting the muscles of my arms and legs. While 
I made this intense effort, we saw the little table slowly 
lean forward, and turn itself over without coming into 
any contact whatever with ourselves. When the pheno- 
menon was accomplished, I felt suddenly very tired. It 
is possible, that the cause of this fatigue was simply the 
violent effort I had made to contract my muscles ; still, 
I point out this observation — which others of the same 
order appear to confirm — because the correlation between 
the effort, and the sudden sensation of fatigue is less 
regular than the connection between that sensation and 
the phenomenon. Whatever may be the intensity of 
the effort, the fatigue is felt with less abruptness and 
in a lesser degree, when the phenomenon is not realised. 
I may add, that this sensation only appears to me to 
accompany telekinetic and certain luminous phenomena. 
It does not, as a rule, accompany raps or automatic mani- 
festations ; the fatigue determined by these phenomena 
makes itself felt progressively and more tardily. I will 
return to this however. 

{d) The experimenters, and particularly the medium, 
sometimes speak of a sensation, which they compare to 
that which is felt, by coming into contact with a spider's 
web. This appears to be rarer than the above-mentioned 
sensations, and, so far, I have not noticed that it was 
manifested with certain phenomena rather than with 

This sensation of spider's web is felt about the hands, 
the face, and at times the back and loins. 


I cannot give any other indication upon this curious 

(e) I have already said a few words about the sudden 
sensation of fatigue, which is felt when an important 
phenomenon occurs. I have carefully examined the 
state of the assistants before and after the seances, 
and I have invariably noticed that most of the experi- 
menters were tired after a successful seance. This fatigue 
appears to be in fairly exact proportion to the results 
obtained. I speak of parakinetic and telekinetic results ; 
for it must be noted that the fatigue determined by these 
abnormal movements is not identical — at least in the case 
of the medium — with the fatigue which other phenomena 
appear to occasion. 

Movements without contact entail a lassitude, com- 
parable to that ensuing after a long walk or prolonged 
physical exercise. 

Ill, The last observation leads me to the examina- 
tion of my third proposition. This is, that the force 
employed in the production of para or telekinetic 
phenomena has, probably, a connection with the organism 
of the experimenters. The analysis I have just made 
allows one to surmise the very serious reasons, which lead 
me to formulate this conclusion so precisely. The first 
of these reasons is the correlation, existing between the 
movements and muscular contractions of the sitters and 
the paranormal movements. I have pointed out that 
this connection appears, in reality, to reside in the 
muscular contraction rather than in the free movements 
of the limbs : this is a first ascertainment. There is 
yet another, that provoked paranormal phenomena are. 


apparently, approximatively proportional to the movement 
executed by the experimenter and the effort he makes. 

These two first points appear to me to be acquired, and 
the correlation observed between the muscular effort and 
the paranormal movement, indicates reciprocal depend- 
ence between these two phenomena. We may go further, 
and try to discover whether the relation indicated resides 
in the fact, itself, of muscular contraction, or in the 
physiological fact which provokes it — that is to say, 
the nervous discharge. Observation tends to show, that 
it is with the nervous influx that the relation pointed 
out appears to be made manifest. In support of this 
opinion I will indicate : — 

(a) The attraction and repulsion which the palm of 
the hand exercises to the almost total exclusion 
of the back of the hand ; 
(i?) The diverse sensations which I have analysed ; 
(c) The influence of the mental condition and dis- 
positions of the experimenters ; 
(^) Finally, the characteristic fatigue which follows 
successful seances, fatigue similar to that which 
is felt after prolonged or violent exercise, that 
is to say, exercise necessitating a considerable 
expenditure of nervous force. In a book, 
in which I am striving to exclude all manner 
of theory, treating, moreover, of a subject 
where theoretical hypotheses are premature, 
I cannot enlarge any further upon these con- 
siderations. I must content myself with 
pointing them out to the attention of those, 
who may wish to experiment in their turn. 
Telekinetic movements are more difficult to simulate 


than levitations of the table with contact. By operating 
in daylight, as I have done, and with non-professional 
mediums, there is every kind of guarantee. Besides, 
it is very difficult for even a professional medium to 
trick telekinetic phenomena in full light ; he must be 
a terribly bad observer, who lets himself be taken in 
under test conditions of light. The slightest link 
between the medium and the object in movement is 
easily perceptible, and it is very easy to make sure, that 
no such link exists. I recommend experimenters to 
force themselves to direct the phenomena towards move- 
ments without contact. I do not advise them even to 
begin with levitations with contact, for it is a manifesta- 
tion which is easily simulated ; and I advise persons who 
are not accustomed to seances, and who are not familiar 
with fraudulent processes, to seek for telekinetic pheno- 
mena only. They are longer in coming, and more 
difficult to obtain ; but their demonstration will make 
it well worth while taking pains to realise them, and 
spending time to wait for them. When we work in 
good light, when we can pass our hands in every direction 
round the article of experimentation, when we operate 
with articles not belonging to the medium, which have not 
been in his possession or handled by him, the hypothesis 
of fraud is inadmissible. I do not speak of the honour- 
ability and good faith of the medium : these are important 
elements of appreciation. But my principle is not to let 
these considerations have any weight, when judging of a 
paranormal fact. For, if the observation is to have any 
serious value, every one ought to be able to verify the 
conditions, under which that observation is made. 

To sum up, the observations, I have so often made 


with diverse mediums, have thoroughly convinced me 
of the reahty of movements without contact. I beheve 
I have verified a connection between them and the or- 
ganism of the experimenters. There is a synergy between 
their movements and their muscular contractions and the 
forthcoming paranormal movements. I have already 
spoken of this coincidence in the chapter on ' Raps.' 

There is this difference, however, to be borne in mind, I 
have noticed that, within a certain radius, the intensity of 
the raps is independent of the proximity of the medium. 
The raps heard at a distance of ten feet appeared to me 
to be as loud as those which resounded near him or 
under his hands. I think it is not quite the same with 
movements without contact. I believe I have noticed, 
that distance exercises a certain influence over the latter. 
I have not seen any movements without contact at a greater 
distance than that of three feet from the medium, save, 
perhaps, the movements of the curtains of the cabinet. 
I have observed that the action appeared to reach its 
maximum at irregular distances. For example, I have 
obtained glidings of the table by slowly drawing the 
hand backwards : the movements occurred, when my 
fingers were about ten or twelve inches away from the 
table, and not when they were closer to it. Many 
circumstances may intervene to modify the action of 
distance, e.g. the possible accumulation of force at the 
end of a given time. 

I have often observed, that the intentional direction 
of a movement executed by an observer influenced 
the movement of the table. I have not been able to 
ascertain whether the determination of the direction of 
the paranormal movement was due to the direction of 


the movement of the experimenter's hand, or to the 
manifestation of his will. I have been prevented from 
solving this problem by the fact, that when the energy 
is sufficient, the movements will occur in the direction 
desired by the assistants. The movements seem to be 
produced by an intelligent being. 

I have already pointed out this curious aspect of 
things, when analysing the phenomenon of raps. Tele- 
kinetic movements present themselves to observation in 
the same manner. They claim, as the raps do, to be the 
manifestations of personifications. I related an obser- 
vation I was once able to make under some interesting 
circumstances ; out of seance hours, in broad daylight, 
in the course of a conversation relative to a certain per- 
sonification, the table near which we were seated glided 
of its own accord across the floor, when I pronounced 
the name taken by the personification. A conversation 
ensued with the latter, by means of the movements of 
the table without contact. I also related the typto- 
logical conversation without contact which I had with 
the same personification. 

These personages who call themselves the authors of 
telekinetic phenomena present the same characteristics, 
as those who claim to be responsible for the pheno- 
menon of raps. I have nothing in particular to say on 
this point at present. 

The observation of the facts resumed in this chapter 
reveals another circumstance which deserves pointing out. 
This is the apparent conductibiiity of certain bodies for 
the force employed. I gave some examples : table-linen, 
wood, dresses, etc. I related having often seen women- 
mediums' dresses bulge out and approach the table. 


when the phenomenon was being produced ; the sensi- 
tive's feet remained visible, and, in view of the con- 
ditions under which I have been able to test this pheno- 
menon, I consider as absurd the idea that an artificial 
hand or foot was introduced, as imagined by Dr. 
Hodgson to explain away this fact with Eusapia. I 
have frequently obtained movements without the contact 
of the medium's dress, but I have certainly noticed that 
this contact facilitates the realisation of the movement. 

Darkness favours it also ; there is no doubt about this. 
Of course I am putting aside the greater facilities 
obscurity offers for the execution of fraudulent pheno- 
mena ; and though, in this book, I have only taken into 
account phenomena observed in full light, I have often 
experimented in obscurity ; and it appears to me certain, 
that total darkness is one of the conditions for the 
maximum development of the liberated energy. 

The action of light is interesting to note. I have 
already stated that the dynamic agency of psychical 
phenomena appeared to me to be analogous with the 
nervous influx, and that the table seemed to play the 
role of condenser. In that hypothesis, light would act 
like certain rays of cathodic origin, which discharge the 
electricised condensers placed in their vicinity. The 
study of the influence of light upon telekinetic pheno- 
mena will certainly enable us to learn their cause. The 
little we already know permits us to suspect that the 
telenergic force ought to have some rapport with light and 
electricity, at least in that which concerns the amplitude 
of vibrations. 

The study of this rapport can only be taken up 
by an experienced physicist. It will require delicate 


methods and special instruments, and I earnestly hope it 
will soon be seriously undertaken. 

As for those who confine themselves, as I do, to 
simply seeking whether the facts be real or not, they 
should avoid working in obscurity. Light may hamper 
the production of telekinetic movements, but it will 
not prevent it. Experimenters should accustom them- 
selves to holding their seances in the daytime, or in a 
light which is sufficient to permit of reading small print. 
Above all things, it is necessary to be personally con- 
vinced of the reality of the facts ; and this conviction is 
not so easily acquired, when the experiment is made in 

It is difficult to imagine to what a pitch audacity of 
certain tricksters will carry them. I once attended a 
series of experiments, which interested me greatly from 
that point of view. The group included three young 
men, one of whom is a most remarkable medium. 
The other two, intelligent and well-educated young 
fellows, appeared to me to have some medianic faculties, 
but I withhold my judgment, because they tried so hard 
to cheat, that it would not be prudent to seriously 
notice those facts, where fraud did not strike me as 
coming into play ; for it was always possible. These 
young men had nothing to gain by cheating ; in any case, 
I have not yet understood what aim they wished to attain. 
The levitations of the table were splendid — in obscurity 
— and all the furniture in the seance-room was more or 
less jostled about and displaced. This was all very fine ; 
it was all very well done ; and novices were easily taken 
in. The ' spirits ' caressed or struck the sitters, and I 
have seen sincere but inexperienced persons convinced 


of the reality of facts, for which the legerdemain of one 
of the young men present was alone responsible. 

One of these youths, a medical student, presents 
symptoms of nervous troubles, and will become a 
hysteric if he is not one already. Notwithstanding my 
reproaches and exhortations, he could not stop himself 
from cheating ; and I have the impression that fraud 
is, in his case, almost impulsive. I did not think I 
was authorised to examine him from a medical point of 
view, but I observed him carefully. He has manu- 
factured spirit photographs very cleverly ; they were 
wonderfully well done, and only a professional eye 
would detect the trick. He proceeded by double ex- 

With this group, as soon as the room was lighted 
up, the phenomena, which were so violent in obscurity, 
ceased almost entirely. This circumstance alone was 
suspicious ; for the action of light is not such as to 
constitute an insurmountable obstacle to the production 
of telekinetic movements. Whenever phenomena are 
intense in obscurity, we ought to be able to obtain 
weaker ones of the same kind in light. This is a rule 
without an exception, as far as my experience goes. 

Needless to add that the table, under the normal 
impetus which the young men gave it, insisted upon 
total darkness. Now, in truly good seances, on the 
contrary, I have always seen the table ask for light, if 
purely motor phenomena were desired. Naturally, it 
is otherwise with luminous phenomena, of which I am 
now going to speak. 




The curious glimmering lights, which 1 am going to 
describe in this chapter, can only be obtained in total 
obscurity. They are generally feeble, and appear to be 
at the limit of visibility. 

I will begin by describing a rather curious phenomenon, 
which is easily observable. I am not quite sure of its 
objective reality ; nevertheless, I will point it out, and 
give my reasons for doing so. 

Certain hand-movements are necessary to bring it 
into evidence ; we must proceed in the following 
manner : — 

1. Face the light. 

2. Put a dark object with a mat surface between your- 
self and the light. Do not place the object so as to 
screen the light from the operators, simply place it 
between the experimenters and the light. An arm-chair 
covered with dark velvet will suit ; place it so that its 
back is turned to the light. 

3. Open the hands, put them against the dark back- 
ground, palms turned towards the chest. Join the 
hands at the finger-tips ; withdraw the hands very slowly, 
always keeping the fingers stretched out. 

4. Place behind you the person with whom the experi- 



ment is to be made, his head on a level with the 
operator's head, that is, in the centre of the plane occu- 
pied by the hands. 

Under these conditions, when the fingers are drawn 
apart, seven or eight out of ten persons will see a sort of 
grey mist uniting the tips of the fingers. The person 
with whom we are experimenting must not be told what 
he is expected to see ; the experiment would be vitiated 
by introducing therein a suggestive or imaginative 

Three-fourths of those with whom I have experi- 
mented perceived a slight mist, passing from the tip of 
one finger to another or corresponding finger on the 
other hand. I myself perceive this mist very plainly : 
to me it resembles cigarette smoke ; it has the same 
greyish colour, the same appearance, but much more 
tenuity. The majority of people see it in this way ; but 
I have met with some, who fancied it a different colour. 
Those who see the efiluvium as coloured are generally 
gifted with psychic faculties. I have not been able to 
come to any positive conclusions on this point ; but I 
have some reasons for believing that the coloured per- 
ception of what I call, for want of a better term, ' digital 
effluvium,' indicates a highly psychical temperament. A 
young doctor, who has remarkable medianic powers, sees 
it as red. I also found two persons who saw it as 
yellow. I have many reasons for thinking that one of 
these two is a medium ; but he refuses to experiment, 
and declares a priori that psychical phenomena are — to 
use his own familiar expression — all 'humbug.' The 
other person is an eminent magistrate. I have found 
some people to whom the digital effluvium appears as 


blue. On the whole, from the experiments I have made 
I reckon that out of 300 people of both sexes, 240 to 
250 perceive the effluvium ; 2 to 3 out of 100 see it as 
blue. I have found two who saw it as yellow ; and one 
who saw it as red. 

I did not remark that the colour of the effluvium was 
different from one hand to the other ; but in reality I 
did not question much on the subject, as I was most 
anxious to avoid anything like suggestion. I have never 
therefore made inquiries upon the possible difference of 
coloration in the two hands ; but I think it would have 
been pointed out to me, had it been perceived. 

Generally the effluvium appears to unite the tips of 
the fingers of each hand. But it is not always so. Often 
two or three digital effluvia converge into one of the 
fingers of the opposite hand, instead of uniting the 
corresponding fingers. 

I noticed that the meteorological conditions and varia- 
tions of temperature had a decided influence upon the 
visibility of the effluvia. When the seance-room is very 
cold, or when the weather is damp or rainy, the effluvia 
are scarcely perceptible. They appear to reach a 
maximum intensity in summer, when the temperature is 
high, and especially when the air is sultry. When the 
weather is threatening and stormy, the effluvium is thick 
and clearly visible to me ; when the storm has burst, and 
the atmosphere has cleared, its intensity diminishes. 

It often varies according to the individual. Some 
people give forth an effluvium, which is more visible than 
that of others. I have not been able to seize any relation 
between the appearance of the effluvium and the sex, age, 
and temperament of the various persons with whom I 


have experimented ; on the contrary, a relation seems to 
exist between the state of health or fatigue and the 
emission of this mist ; it is rarely visible, when the 
person who emits it is tired or ill. 

Such are the principal remarks, which observation of 
this curious phenomenon has allowed me to make. I 
have summed them up carefully, but I ought to say, that 
to me the reality of this appearance does not seem to be 
demonstrated. After all it may only be due to an effect 
of contrast. The conditions under which it is observed 
with the greatest convenience are those, where the hands 
stand out clearly on a dark background. In drawing the 
hands away one from the other, the image of the fingers 
persists perhaps on the retina, and gives rise, maybe, to 
an illusion ; but this explanation is not always sufficient. 

There is an optima distance for the realisation of this 
effluvium. As a rule the effluvium appears denser when 
the fingers are fairly close together ; as they move away 
the density diminishes ; it becomes thinner and more 
attenuated. But if the hands cease to move, the 
effluvium disappears. This is the case as long as the 
tips of the fingers are not more than 2 to 3 centimetres 
away. If the movement of withdrawal ceases when the 
finger-tips are within 10 to 15 centimetres proximity, the 
effluvium remains visible for a longer time. This is 
what generally happens, but the facts have not always 
the same regularity. There is, in psychical phenomena, 
the same diversity and variability, which are observed in 
other biological phenomena. 

I have said that the effluvium persists longer and is 
best seen when the finger-tips of each hand are within 
10 centimetres proximity. Under these conditions, the 


movement of separation being suspended, the slight 
mist, which I described, persists several seconds. Some- 
times the effluvium is clearly visible, when the fingers are 
25 to 30 centimetres apart. 

I am inclined to think, that this effluvium is not 
altogether an imaginary phenomenon. It seems to me 
to exclude, at least, the hypothesis of the persistence of 
the retinal image ; for the false image does not last so 
long as the effluvium, under the conditions mentioned 
by me. 

There is yet another explanation. This is that the 
eye automatically prolongs the clear impression of the 
fingers on the dark background separating them. This 
would be analogous to the expansion by irradiation of 
clear images upon a dark background. 

Other reasons, however, make me discard this hypo- 
thesis. In the first place, why do some people see the 
supposed false image vividly coloured and not white ? 
Secondly, if the phenomenon is of retinal origin, why — 
instead of being thinner, as is the case — does not the 
image reproduce the form of the finger .'' Why is it a 
blue-grey colour and not black, as should be the com- 
plimentary image of a finger which appears to be 
white ? 

Why is not the phenomenon produced with certain 
objects coloured in white.'' In vain might we experi- 
ment with them as with the hands ; they would never 
leave effluvium between them. There is an exception, 
however : if we hold cotton or wood in the hands, we 
will often perceive this appearance of effluvium. It is not 
obtained, as far as I have been able to judge, with metal 
objects. From this, it may be inferred, though I do not 


affirm it, as my experiments are not sufficiently con- 
clusive — that wood and cotton conduct the effluvium as 
well as flesh. This seems to me very probable with 
cotton ; by holding a crumpled handkerchief in the 
hand, and presenting it to the background as I have 
recommended doing with the fingers, we will notice a 
slight mist round the cotton, which seems to soften off 
the outlines. 

Finally, another more serious reason for considering 
these effluvia as probably objective, is the frequent 
absence of parallelism between the effluvia of corre- 
sponding fingers. I have often observed distinct diver- 
gencies, and it sometimes struck me as though the will 
might be able to influence the direction of the effluvia to 
a certain extent. It often happens that all the experi- 
menters see the effluvia under the same aspect. The 
phenomenon can show great variability in appearance, the 
middle finger of one hand, for example, becoming con- 
nected with two, three, or four fingers of the opposite 

As the aspect of this effluvium usually appears the 
same to the observers, there is room to presume that its 
existence and direction are not illusory phenomena. In 
the contrary case, we would have to suppose collective 
hallucination, or a most improbable transmission of 
impression, which my personal observations do not 
dispose me to admit. 

The phenomenon, which I have called ' visibility of the 
digital effluvium ' for the sake of convenience, is very 
easy to observe. I make great reserves on its objectivity, 
although I think its reality is more probable than its 
non-existence. It is most desirable that competent 


experimenters should verify these observations, which I 
only present as uncertain. 

I would have no doubt whatever of the phenomenon, if 
the accounts of the persons with whom I experimented 
had always concorded as to the direction taken by the 
effluvia ; but it was not so. Though there is a good 
proportion of corroboration, I have often observed 
contradictions in the descriptions which were given me. 

Although the digital effluvium does not yet appear to 
me to be demonstrated, I think it will be interesting to 
point out the analogies it presents with phenomena already 
mentioned by diverse experimenters, notably by Reichen- 
bach and de Rochas. These two experimenters operated 
under very different conditions to mine. The one placed 
his sensitive in profound obscurity and left him there 
for a time ; then he made him look at living beings, 
flowers, magnets, ends of cords, and metal wires, opposite 
ends of which were in the sun ; his sensitives generally 
saw — especially with human hands, crystals, and magnetic 
poles — a kind of flame or luminous mist surrounding 
them, or issuing from them. Rochas has chiefly experi- 
mented with sensitives plunged in deep sleep ; every one 
has read of his experiments, — the blue and red coloration 
which his sensitives gave to the gleams of light which are 
emitted by magnetic poles, and the right and left sides of 
the body. My conditions of experimentation were very 
difi^erent from those under which Reichenbach and Rochas 
worked. I took the first comer and operated in broad 
daylight. But my observations tend to confirm theirs, 
at least in what concerns the radiation of something at 
the finger-tips. 

Another interesting observation remains to be made. 


I have shown that very probably linen, and perhaps wood 
also, were easily impregnated with that substance of 
which the effluvium is constituted. This fact may be 
compared with those I pointed out, when dealing with 
telekinetic movements : particularly the approach of a 
small table which touched the cloth of the table at which 
I was breakfasting ; the approach of the chair which was 
touched by a wooden newspaper-holder lying on the 
table ; and lastly, the curious bulging out of mediums' 
dresses, which grazed the feet of the table in some cases 
of telekinesis. Without forming any premature hypo- 
thesis, it is allowable to look upon the ciigital effluvium 
as having some connection with the force, which is the 
determining cause of movements without contact. 

The effluvium is visible under other conditions, which 
are worth noting. It can be seen, when passes are made 
over a person or an object. The appearance is again 
similar to smoke ; it is a bluish-grey mist, which seems to 
form prolongations of the fingers. 

The effluvium is not a luminous phenomenon. I have 
described it in order to be complete, and not to omit a 
fact which is interesting for more than one reason. It 
can, moreover, be seen by certain subjects in the dark. 
Here is an interesting experiment, which I have some- 
times realised, but which presents certain difficulties. 

One of the mediums, with whom I experimented, 
appeared to have an exceptional acuteness of vision in 
reference to the effluvium. He saw it escape from the 
hands of the sitters, and spread itself over the seance- 
table. Desirous of finding out what the medium would 
see in total darkness, I put out all the lights, and invited 
the medium to touch my hand if he saw it. The experi- 


ment did not succeed every time, but the proportion of 
success was superior to probabilities ; but as the medium 
might have been able to guide himself by the sense of 
hearing, I thought of testing him by touching the table. 
The sensitive quickly recognised the finger-tips, claiming 
to perceive a kind of milky phosphorescence at the spot 
where my finger was. To make doubly sure I tested him 
still further by tracing letters on the table with the tip of 
my forefinger, taking the precaution to avoid all sound. 
The medium read nearly all the letters drawn. I then 
traced some words ; he read them off also. I was able 
to make him read words of five letters ; he was not 
able to read longer words, he recognised the last letters, 
but declared that the first were blotted out. Nearly all 
the words of three or four letters were read correctly, 
and the errors were often significant : e.g. the word 
' foi ' became ' loi.' Now, in a running hand-writ- 
ing, it suffices to suppress the lower part of the ' f ' for 
the letter thus amputated to take the aspect of an ' 1.' 
I cannot say if the sensitive really saw what he claimed 
to see, or if he were guided by the sound of my finger. 
I am obliged to trust to his sincerity on this point ; but 
I have reason to believe that this medium is sincere and 
honourable. He is a man of education, and is not a 
professional medium ; he follows a liberal profession, 
and does not wish his name to be mentioned. I have 
much esteem for him. On the other hand, his senses 
would need to have been extraordinarily developed, to 
have enabled him to recognise the movement of my 
finger from the very slight sound it may have made. No 
sound was perceptible to myself. I wrote on a small 
varnished table of blackwood, on which my finger glided 


easily and silently. Again, the errors made now and 
then — by reading ' loi ' for ' foi,' etc., seem to prove that 
the sense of sight and not sound was in operation. 

Sometimes it happens, that it is no longer the effluvium 
which is perceived, but the whole hand itself becomes 
phosphorescent. Rays come and go like gleams on the 
back of the hands, or on the fingers, and sometimes, but 
very rarely, on the face or body of the sitters. These 
phosphorescences and the digital effluvia appear to me to 
belong to the same order of phenomena. Frequently, 
they are but fleeting gleams seen at the finger-tips, when 
the hands are resting on the table. Though I and others 
who have experimented with me, have often verified this 
appearance, I have some doubts upon its reality. In 
obscurity, the eye tires quickly, and phosphenes soon 
appear ; still, I have nearly always observed, that these 
glimmering lights were perceived by other persons in the 
same spot I saw them in. 

I have rarely observed those glimmering lights, some 
people see, on the garments and faces of sitters. 

I have not yet been able to verify, in a positive 
manner, the phosphorescence of the hands in ordinary 
seances ; though observers in whom I have the greatest 
confidence, have assured me that they had remarked it. 
We must not lose sight of the fact that the eyes tire 
quickly ; when the obscurity is not complete, the white 
hands are vaguely perceived on the dark background, the 
eyes, growing tired, accentuate the contrast between the 
two shades, and the palest has a tendency to appear 
slightly luminous. 

Sometimes, but very seldom, I have observed sparks 
which seemed to coincide with raps. This phenomena 


appears to have an objective reality. I was not the only 
one to notice these sparks ; others saw them also ; their 
apparition at the moment the raps were heard was 
constant. These circumstances permitted us to think, that 
the phenomenon ought to have an objective substratum 
of some kind. 

However, I have observed luminous phenomena which 
were decidedly objectiye. At Choisy, we obtained them 
under special conditions, which Rochas has indicated, 
and which are rather significative. These lights, which 
were very brilliant, looked like large phosphorescent 
drops gliding about on Eusapia's bodice, after having 
floated for some time in the air. This phenomenon did 
not appear to me to be very convincing, because during 
the sitting, a strong odour of phosphorus permeated the 
room. When Eusapia had left, I returned to the room, 
where I found MM. de Gramont and de Watte ville, 
who were as inquisitive as 1 was. We searched but 
found nothing on the floor. 

Our suspicions had been aroused by the phosphores- 
cent odour, which was diff\ised in the room. Since then, 
I have noticed it in seances, where fraud seemed to be 
impossible. This odour is characteristic ; it is more 
like the odour of ozone than that of phosphorus. It 
is Hke the odour perceptible in the vicinity of static 
electrical machines when in activity. 

These flitting lights can be easily imitated. A 
prudent experimenter ought never to lose sight of the 
fact, that it is possible to employ diverse substances in 
order to produce phosphorescent efi^ects. The use of 
phosphorescent oil, for example, will give fictitious 
luminous phenomena. I remember a seance at which 


the medical student, of whom I have already spoken, 
was present. I noticed that one of his finger-tips shone 
for a moment. I afterwards learnt, that this young man 
had a phial of phosphorescent oil in one of his pockets. 
On another occasion, long narrow lights were, from 
time to time, seen on his body. I think these were 
produced by matches or straws dipped in the luminous 
liquid. Phosphorescent preparations, as a rule, have 
the advantage of only becoming very luminous, when 
they are shaken about in the air ; for the lights, which 
are given forth by the phosphorus they contain, are 
only produced when there are phenomena of oxydation. 

Objects coated over with sulphide of calcium, stron- 
tium, or baryum, become luminous in obscurity, when 
they have been previously exposed to light. This is 
the principle of luminous dials, match-boxes and candle- 
sticks. There are also other substances which permit 
of simulating luminous phenomena. 

I was once present at some seances, which were 
very curious from the point of view of the luminous 
phenomena which I observed. These seances were of 
the series of which I have already spoken. The two 
young tricksters, some of whose misdeeds I have 
related, were present, and as one of them is an excellent 
chemist, it is possible that the superb phenomena I 
observed were not altogether authentic. I confess, I 
do not see how fraud was committed ; but, given the 
conditions under which I experimented, I think I ought 
to abstain from expressing a favourable opinion upon 
the reality of the facts observed. I will describe them 
succinctly, indicating the phenomena which could have 
been simulated, and those which did not appear to be so. 


The medium is a young man of twenty-four years of 
age, of good family, and fairly well-educated. He has 
been well brought up, and his manners are good. He 
is a commercial clerk. He is a tall, strong, well-built 
young man, apparently in robust health. He is in- 
telligent, but does not strike me as having a very strong 
will. He is easily influenced by his comrades, and was 
particularly so by the medical student whose irrepressible 
tendency to cheating I have already spoken about. The 
student had a great ascendency over the medium, and, 
in spite of my advice, induced him to experiment too 
frequently, almost daily. It was easy to foresee the 
result : the imprudent student and medium both pre- 
sented visible nervous troubles at the end of a few 
weeks. The seances were held in the evening with a 
round table which had a double top ; they began in the 
light, but, in obedience to the behests of the table, total 
obscurity was speedily obtained. I have always thought 
that obscurity was asked for by one of the two tricksters, 
who was then able to give himself up to his heart's delight, 
and do as he pleased with his confiding group. They 
had invited some of their friends — students or doctors — 
and I was extremely sorry for these new-comers, in that 
they should have been present at such suspicious seances. 

To be quite exact, I ought to say that, though I was 
convinced these young men frauded, I was not always 
able to bring it home to them. I generally seated myself 
beside the most turbulent of the two young men, and 
the hand which I held never once left mine. But the 
other hand and the other trickster had more liberty, 
and some of my co-experimenters verified fraud. 

Moreover, I suspected fraud, because of the appear- 


ance of the phenomena, which were of an extremely 
rough character. The table, raised from the floor, 
was at times thrown against the observers with so much 
force, that they have occasionally been seriously hurt. 
This never happens with true phenomena. The thin 
top of the table was broken ; a ' phenomenon ' which 
was caused by exaggerated pressure or violent blows 
destined to imitate loud raps. Real raps never break 
a table ; its feet are sometimes demolished, when the 
levitated table falls abruptly, but this is the only damage 
I have ever observed at serious seances. 

Notwithstanding the more than suspicious conditions 
under which we operated, I am not sure that all the 
phenomena were simulated. In these seances, there 
seems to have been a mixture of much that was false 
with a little that was true. A longer observation would 
have permitted me to come to a more definite conclusion, 
but the seances were discontinued. 

Of the phenomena, the authenticity of which appeared 
probable to me, I will mention raps. Many of them 
were obtained in the light and without apparent contact ; 
they had all the aspect of the authentic raps I have so 
frequently observed. But owing to insufficient control, 
I do not feel able to affirm their reality. 

As for luminous phenomena, I cannot help wonder- 
ing how some of them could have been simulated. In 
order to give a precise physiognomy of the conditions 
under which they were observed, I will briefly relate one 
of the most curious seances of the series. 

There were about a dozen persons present. Five or 
six sat down to the table, and raps were obtained, now on 
the table, now on the floor. Obscurity was asked for and 


gradually given. The phenomena increased in intensity 
as the darkness deepened. When we could no longer 
see, the usual levitations, violent knocking, and dis- 
placement of furniture had their own way. The seance 
was discontinued for a few minutes, and resumed towards 
eleven o'clock. The table requested that the medium 
might be placed in the cabinet, which was in a corner 
of the room, and made of white curtains. The medium 
was placed as requested. The table then asked the 
experimenters to withdraw from the vicinity of the 
cabinet ; when giving these directions, the table appeared 
to strike the floor of its own accord. It told us to seat 
ourselves at a distance of 6 feet from the cabinet, and 
then asked us to sing. We droned out the air, ' Frere 
Jacques, dormez-vous ? ' At the end of ten or fifteen 
minutes, milky-looking phosphorescent lights were seen 
on the curtains of the cabinet ; then luminous hands 
appeared. One very luminous hand rose rapidly outside 
the curtains and seized a bell, which had been hooked 
on to a nail at about 7 feet 6 inches above the floor. 
This hand was visible to every one. 

Then the milky-lights were again seen, larger and 
more brilliant than before. One of these lights, the 
outlines of which were very indistinct, floated about the 
room, and withdrew to about 9 feet from the cabinet, 
along the wall opposite the one near which the experi- 
menters were grouped. This light appeared to be 4 
feet above the ground ; it was about 3 feet high by 
10 inches broad, and appeared to float in the air. It 
remained visible for several seconds. 

Afterwards, other lights were seen near the curtains ; 
finally, one extremely brilliant light appeared above the 


curtains near the ceiling. This light was about i foot 
6 inches high by i foot 2 inches wide. The outlines of 
this luminosity were more clearly defined than those of 
the light which floated about the room. 

These phenomena were clearly visible to every one. 
Some of the experimenters thought they could see 
shadowy forms in these lights. As for me, I could 
distinguish no human appearance therein. The first 
light I described gave me the impression of a luminous 
pillar ; the second, whose outlines were better defined, 
awakened no idea of any definite form. We ceased 
experimenting shortly after this seance. 

Were they genuine, these phenomena ^ I am not 
sure, but I cannot help wondering how they could have 
been simulated ! There are some distinctions to be 
made between these appearances, of which I have only 
described the principal. The luminous hand, which 
unhooked the bell, was well defined : it was very distinct 
and one mass of light. I quite understand that suspicion 
might fall on the medium ; he might have covered his 
own hand with some phosphorescent substance, and, 
thanks to his height, unhooked the bell himself. Let 
us try to find out what substance he could have used. 
We must, I think, put aside the idea of phosphorescent 
oil. This would have left traces on the medium's hands 
and clothes, on the curtains of the cabinet, on the bell, 
on the wall where the bell was hung. Now there was 
nothing of the sort. The medium's hands and garments 
bore no trace whatsoever of oil. Besides, the light which 
is given forth by preparations which have phosphorus as 
their basis, has neither the duration, nor the uniformity 
of the lights I observed. 


Is it a preparation with a basis of sulphides of the 
calcium class ? Sulphides, in order to be phos- 
phorescent, ought to be in a dry state. They are 
usually reduced to a powder, and this powder is 
pasted on to the substance we wish to render luminous. 
The appearance of a hand might be given by a glove 
done over with sulphide of strontium or calcium. But 
I need not say how difficult it would be to put on this 
glove. True, the glove could be stuffed with horse- 
hair, dipped in paste and sprinkled over with sulphide in 
the desired position. The phenomenon which I observed, 
could then be explained in the following manner : The 
medium might have moved the luminous glove about 
with one hand, and unhooked the bell with the other. 
This is possible, and yet it does not appear to me to 
explain what I saw. 

In any case, this explanation ceases to be satisfactory, 
when we consider the case of the floating lights. I know 
of no system which allows of imitating the immaterial, 
fugitive, diaphanous appearance of these curious lights. 
My chemical knowledge, it is true, is very rudimentary ; 
and one of the young men I speak of is a clever 
chemist ; it may be he knows of a more perfect process 
than those just mentioned. Nevertheless, it seems to 
me that a piece of cloth done over with some luminous 
preparation or other, would not have the aspect of the 
light which I saw floating about the room. I think it is 
very difficult to reproduce these vague, ill-defined lights, 
which are more like a luminous cloud than a phos- 
phorescent material object. 

The outlines of the last appearance I described were 
well defined, and in its upper part reminded one of the 



folds of material. Some of my co - experimenters 
thought they recognised a masculine, bearded head 
therein, covered with a turban or burnoose. If we had 
been in the presence of an artificial phenomenon, the 
luminous object should have presented the same aspect 
to every observer. It was not so in reality ; for some 
of us could distinguish no recognisable form in the 
luminosity. I know that the imagination can be the 
cause of much visual illusion. It makes us complete 
imperfect images, and see faces and forms in plays of 
light and shade which only faintly recall these forms and 
faces. I have not observed the curious phenomena 
which I describe, under conditions sufficiently precise to 
enable me to affirm their objectivity, and I can only 
repeat what I said just now, that their reality appeared 
probable to me, in spite of the frauds of which I knew, 
and those which I suspected ; in spite of my intellect's 
prejudice, I was favourably impressed. 

I will add that the luminosity, which floated about the 
room, moved about up and down, and lasted for several 
seconds. That part of the room where it floated about 
was blocked up with the table, chairs and other furniture, 
which had been taken there from the recess adjoining 
the seance-room. All the experimenters were grouped 
together in one part of the room. None of them left 
their seats during the production of these phenomena. 
Had the medium left the cabinet and manoeuvred the 
light we perceived, he would have knocked against the 
scattered furniture. We kept the strictest silence, when 
luminous phenomena were being produced, and we 
would certainly have heard the medium moving about, 
had he left the cabinet. Now, we heard no noise what- 


soever ; neither of the footsteps he would have been 
obliged to make, nor of the furniture which he would 
have knocked against, unless he be able to see remark- 
ably well in the dark. 

Such are the observations I have to present upon this 
curious seance. One of my friends, an eminent savant, 
well acquainted with this kind of phenomena, had, like 
myself, the impression that those I have depicted were 

Moreover, in other seances this medium gave us 
similar luminosities. I will even point out that one 
of the suspected sitters — the medical student — the 
clever chemist — having been eliminated, and the experi- 
ments taking place at the house of one of my medical 
friends, we observed globular lights on the curtains of 
the cabinet behind which the medium was sitting. These 
lights were much smaller than those I have just described 
— they were as large as a walnut — but were easily 

I hope to be able to resume my experiments with this 
medium ; for to me he seems to be one of the most 
powerful I have ever seen. It is really a pity he should 
have fallen into the hands of imprudent and ignorant 
young men ; they have abused his force, worn him out, 
and made him ill. Judiciously handled, he might have 
become extraordinary. It remains to be seen, if the bad 
conditions under which he has been developed have not 
had the effect of destroying the rare faculty he possessed. 
I will return to these considerations later on. 

The lights produced by this young man were the most 
brilliant I have ever seen. Their colour has been well 
compared to the light of the nebula by one of my co- 


experimenters, a distinguished amateur astronomer. 
This experimenter had a good spectroscope, but he has 
never been able to succeed in analysing, spectro- 
scopically, the lights we have seen. They were too 
unsteady and fugitive. 

1 now come to some visual phenomena, which have 
not the same luminous feature as those I have been 
speaking about, but which present another very curious 
feature : they give representations of objects or of human 

I have not seen any phosphorescent human forms such 
as certain observers affirm to have seen. I have said that 
the Bordeaux medium, in presence of whom I had seen 
such fine luminous phenomena, had also given us a 
luminous hand. At Choisy in 1896, I saw the same 
thing with Eusapia. There was enough light in the 
room to see Eusapia's hands. Under these conditions — 
the hands of the medium being not only held by her 
right- and left-hand neighbours, but visible all the time on 
the table — we perceived at about i foot 9 inches above 
Eusapia's head a slightly phosphorescent hand, which 
shook about in the opening between the two curtains. 
This appearance was very distinct, and was perceived by 
all those whose positions allowed them to see it. 

This was not the first time I had seen the form of a 
hand. In 1895, at I'Agnelas, I saw a hand and bare 
forearm, which showed itself in profile above M. 
Sabatier, seated in front of me, and touched him on the 
forehead. At the same moment, M. Sabatier mentioned 
having been touched on the head. My perception was 
clear and decided ; I was positive of having seen this 
hand and forearm. I remember that my co-experi- 


menters — two of them at least — hesitated to admit my 
observation, because I had been the only one to see it. 
In 1895, 1 was not so accustomed to seances as I became 
later on, and I was inclined to listen with deference to 
my friends' remarks, but I was so positive of the reality 
of my observation, that it was inserted in the report. 
Subsequent experience has multiplied observations of 
this order : they recall to mind the round head seen at 
Carqueiranne. The hand and forearm which I saw at 
I'Agnelas were black and opaque. They were projected 
on to the clear background of the room where we 
experimented ; we were seated in such a way that only 
I could see them. 

I did not see anything quite like this in 1896; for, it 
will be remembered that the hand we saw at Choisy 
was slightly phosphorescent, and presented quite a different 
appearance to the dark, solid-looking arm and hand which 
I saw at I'Agnelas. I remember one day at Choisy, when 
M. de Gramont was in the cabinet behind Eusapia, the 
latter told us to blow hard. At the same moment, 
M. de Gramont saw the shape of a pair of bellows. 

At Bordeaux, in 1897, ^^^ again saw black, opaque 
forms under excellent conditions. A few extracts from 
the reports of these seances will be found in the Appendix. 
I refer my readers to this for the detail of the material 
conditions under which we operated. I will simply indi- 
cate here that the room, in which we held our seances, 
is lighted up by a very large bay-window. The persian 
shutters were closed for the seances ; but the gas-light, 
from the kitchen premises, was reflected through the 
Persians on to the window-panes, and cast a faint light in 
the seance-room. In consequence of this reflection on 


the panes, the window formed a kind of clear back- 
ground, upon which the silhouettes of certain black 
forms could be seen by at least half of the experimenters. 

We all saw these forms, or rather the form ; for it 
was always the same form which was shown, the profile 
of a long bearded face with a strongly arched nose. 
This appearance is said to be the head of ' John,' Eusapia's 
habitual personification. It is an extraordinary pheno- 
menon ; and the first idea which presents itself to the 
mind is that of a collective hallucination. But then it 
remains to be asked, why it was manifested under the very 
special conditions I have indicated. Moreover, the care 
with which we observed this curious phenomenon, and — 
it seems to me superfluous to add — the calm with which 
we experimented, render the hypothesis of hallucination 
a most unlikely one. 

The hypothesis of fraud is still less admissible. The 
head we perceived was of natural size, and measured about 
I foot 6 inches from the forehead to the extremity of 
the beard. If the phenomenon is to be attributed to 
fraud, we must explain how Eusapia hid the necessary 
mask on her person ; we must also explain how she could 
have drawn it out unknown to us, and further, how she 
manoeuvred it. Eusapia did not go into trance at our 
Bordeaux seances. She sometimes saw the profile in 
question, and manifested her satisfaction at being able to 
look on, for the first time I think, at the phenomena 
which was produced through her. The light from the 
window was sufficient to enable us to see Eusapia's hands. 
I have no need to say that her hands were carefully held 
by her right and left controllers. If this profile had 
been concealed on her person, it would have been abso- 


lutely impossible for her to manoeuvre it. The profile we 
observed appeared to form itself at the top of the cabinet, 
at a height of about 3 feet 9 inches above Eusapia's 
head ; it descended slowly and placed itself just above 
and in front of her ; at the end of a few seconds it dis- 
appeared only to reappear later on under the same 
conditions. We always carefully assured ourselves of 
the relative immobility of the medium's hands and arms ; 
and the strange phenomenon I relate is one of the most 
irreproachable I have ever verified, so utterly incom- 
patible is the hypothesis of fraud with the conditions 
under which we observed it. 

Two or three times a slightly luminous phenomenon 
was noticed. It was formed on the curtain, near which 
my friend M. de Pontaud and I were sitting ; it was a 
whitish, milky-looking spot, visible to every one, at least 
to those whose positions allowed them to perceive it 
conveniently. This luminosity appeared to shrink up 
quickly, and disappeared on a level with our heads. 

Evidently I have no explanation to offer. The appari- 
tion of these human forms raises a problem, which is far 
more complicated than the problem of raps and movements 
without contact, and I think the study of this problem 
cannot be profitably undertaken at present. Nothing 
authorises me to consider these curious phenomena as 
demonstrating the exactness of the spirit hypothesis ; I 
think their cause lies elsewhere than in the intervention 
of the spirit of a deceased person ; but I am not yet able 
to formulate any rational opinion on this subject. How- 
ever, I will point out the close connection, which appears 
to me to exist between the production of these forms, and 
the production of raps and movements without contact. 


These relations tend to persuade me, that all these 
phenomena belong to the same order, and depend upon 
the same agent, and the same cause. Before, however, 
analysing summarily the observations on which I base 
this opinion, I ought to describe a series of experiments, 
which have given me most curious results. These experi- 
ments were made with a medium, a man of deep intelli- 
gence and refined nature, of whose medianity I have 
already spoken, pages 74, 79, 81-2, 101-3. I obtained 
with him : (a) raps, faint at first, but very clear and well 
verified, with and without contact ; (J?) movements with- 
out contact of feeble amplitude, but very well observed ; 
(^) faint luminous phenomena ; (d) finally, the pro- 
duction of diverse forms. The first two categories of 
facts have already been dealt with, I will now describe 
the last two. They confirm, to a certain extent, the 
experiments already related in this chapter. 

The first time luminous phenomena were seen, we 
were holding a seance in a small room, but were not 
using a table. The medium perceived several lights and 
even faces on the wall in front of him. These lights 
and faces were not visible to me. Sometimes I thought 
I saw lights, but extremely faint ones, and at the limit 
of visibility ; I think, these lights were subjective. And 
yet, I have often asked the medium where he saw the 
light, to describe its shape, and the direction it took if 
it moved about, and I have remarked that the indications 
given by the medium concorded with my own observa- 
tions ; but, curiously enough — and it is my duty as a 
witness to point this out — I could often see these 
lights, just as well when my eyes were closed, as when 
they were open. This circumstance seems to me con- 


elusive, and makes me think these lights were subjec- 
tive. In reality, I do not think that the light emitted 
by the gleams I saw was of such a nature, that its rays 
could penetrate through closed eyelids. This interior 
visibility should exist in every case ; now this is not so, 
and I have only observed it with this particular medium, 
though I had once or twice suspected it in a former 
series of experiments. 

On the other hand, I cannot consider these visions as 
hallucinations, unless I also admit that this entoptic 
hallucination is collective. But then, why are not these 
illusions met with in other seances? Why is the mani- 
festation of lights or forms accompanied by abundant 
raps without contact ? These raps immediately precede 
the apparition of the forms, and behave as though they 
were signals destined to draw the attention of the 
observers. This is a coincidence which is not fortuitous, 
for it is almost constant. 

The first time that a more or less definite form was 
observed with this medium, no seance was being held. 
The medium saw on the wall the apparition of one of 
his ' personifications,' and the word curtain traced in 
luminous letters. The sensitive could not interpret the 
meaning of this word, for he had never been present at 
any spiritistic seance. I told him to continue observing, 
for I thought I understood the meaning of this message. 
I immediately arranged, as well as I could, a kind of 
cabinet in a corner of the room with the help of some 
black curtains. We darkened the room and sat down 
before a table, the medium having his back turned to 
the cabinet. In a short time we heard raps on the table, 
the medium's chair, the floor, and on the wall inside the 


cabinet. The medium, interested, turned half round 
towards the cabinet, when all at once, after the pro- 
duction of some very faint, flitting lights, I perceived 
the beautiful face of a woman, pale, the eyes up-raised as 
though in prayer. The eyes and hair were black ; the 
hair was parted in the centre and dressed in the style of 
fifty or sixty years ago. The face was draped in a white 
veil which also covered the head, forming a kind of 
frame for the face. The physiognomy was of the 
sweetest, and of rare beauty. The apparition appeared 
to be slightly luminous, of a whitish, milky hue. It 
showed itself to the left of the medium, but high above 
him, near the ceiling. It remained visible for a very 
short time. Prudently interrogated, the medium gave 
me the exact description of the face I had just perceived. 
The details concorded in every way. Inquiry as to who 
it was elicited the information, given in raps, that it was 
the face of one of the group of four fairies of whom I 
spoke on page 8i. 

It is not often I have had such a clear vision. I have, 
indeed, very rarely obtained this curious phenomenon : 
still, I have observed it distinctly three times with this 
medium. The second time, the faces seemed to be only 
partially materialised ; I only saw portions of faces un- 
known to me : the medium recognised one of these faces. 
The third time, the medium saw the apparitions plainly, 
and described them, but I saw only faint lights ; suddenly, 
however, I saw a face, the forehead, eyes, and nose, repro- 
ducing the traits of a very dear friend I had recently 
lost. The medium saw the whole face. He did not 
know my friend when he was alive, but he has had 
curious and strange posthumous apparitions of him under 


conditions which it would be interesting to relate, but, 
unfortunately, I am not authorised to do so completely. 

It is not only the forms of human beings which I have 
seen with this medium, but also those of animals, more 
or less strange, I cannot help thinking that these are 
due to imagination. But the curious fact is, that there 
is concordance between the medium's visions and the 
appearances perceived by the sitters. 

Finally, under the same conditions, I once saw a 
copper lantern, of well-defined shape, and in a particular 
position. This vision was also seen by the medium in 
the same way. Here, again, I cannot form any satis- 
factory explanation. I am inclined to think, that I am the 
victim of hallucination, though the circumstances do not 
favour that hypothesis. The vision of the lantern is 
analogous to that of the pair of bellows seen by M. de 
Gramont with Eusapia. I refer my readers to what I 
said further back concerning the concordance between 
the raps and the apparitions ; this simultaneousness 
existed with the apparitions of animal-like forms and 
material objects, as well as with those of human faces. 
This is a fact which is of a nature to set aside the 
hypothesis of pure illusion. But then ! 

I have mentioned these strange experiences in order to 
be complete and sincere. I do not conceal the fact, that 
it costs me much to relate this, because I do not find 
herein the conditions of precision, which my experiments 
in telekinesis, for example, appeared to present. I will 
add that I do not try to obtain these phenomena of more 
or less complete materialisations. I suffer them : for the 
facts do not proceed altogether according to the liking 
of the experimenter. I cannot say that these apparitions 


leave me indifferent ; on the contrary, they interest me 
immensely ; but I have the impression of being in the 
presence of a fact, vt^hich is too complicated to be usefully 
observed. It is not the same with raps and telekinesis : 
and I put forth all my efforts in order to restrict my 
studies and researches to these phenomena ; for I have 
the feeling that we may be able to arrive at discovering 
the conditions of their production. I imagine — perhaps 
wrongly— that, henceforth, we can submit them to 
scientific discipline ; I think that the study of raps and 
telekinetic phenomena is the necessary preliminary to 
the study of other, less comprehensible, facts. There- 
fore, I have devoted myself almost exclusively to their 
observation ; nevertheless, I did not think I was able to 
dispense with relating everything I had seen. I am 
entirely ignorant of the signification of these diverse 
appearances ; I may have made a mistake, though I 
do not think so, but it seems to me I have not the 
right to make a choice in my experiments, to withhold 
the one and relate the other. It behoves those who 
read me to put themselves in the same conditions under 
which I was placed, and observe in their turn. I confine 
myself to relating what I have seen. I will add that 
certain facts have appeared to me more certain than 
others, but my role of witness ends there. 

The ascertainments I have made in what concerns 
luminous phenomena, permit me to give some useful 
indications. The first concern the methods of operation ; 
the others are conclusions which I have drawn from 
my own experiences. 

When seeking for simple, luminous phenomena, it is 
advisable to proceed as I have done for parakinetic and 


telekinetic phenomena. The sitters group themselves 
around a table, leaning their hands on it, or form a 
chain round the table without touching it. Needless to 
say, the obscurity ought to be as complete as possible. 
Under these conditions, lights can be obtained ; and 
it is in this way, I observed the woman's face I have 

The very fine lights which I saw with the young 
Bordeaux medium (pages 141 and following) were ob- 
tained in another manner, which seems to me better still. 
It is, moreover, the method adopted by professional 
mediums, perhaps because it favours the execution of 
fraudulent even more than genuine phenomena. This 
method consists in placing the medium in the cabinet 
and forming the chain, either round the table or in a 
half-circle, in which latter case the chain is not closed. 

I have noticed that music and singing in common 
have a favourable influence on the production of the 
phenomena. This circumstance is, however, another 
cause for suspicion, because the noise of music and 
singing can drown that made by the medium in moving 

Although I cannot consider the reality of the luminous 
phenomena observed by me as being so well established 
as that of certain other phenomena, I will none the less 
give the result of the ascertainments I think I have made 
thereon. I indicate them with every reserve ; but the 
analogy they present with the ascertainments I made 
relative to raps and movements without contact, appeared 
to me useful to point out. It is one of the reasons which 
made me believe in their probability first of all ; it is also 
the indication of the presumable existence of some general 


law governing all these phenomena, however different in 
appearance they may be. 

The most important observations I have to make are, 
as before, the synchronism between the muscular action 
and the phenomenon ; the tendency to personification ; 
the physical fatigue experienced by all the experimenters 
after a successful seance. 

The reasons why I conclude in the existence of this 
synchronism, are based upon a great number of observa- 
tions made with Eusapia and other mediums. It seemed 
to me, in my experiments with Eusapia Paladino, that 
this latter preferred the breath to any other movement 
for the production of lights. This conclusion is uncer- 
tain, because I have not had occasion to examine many 
luminous phenomena with the Neapolitan medium. 

My observations were more precise^with the Bordeaux 
medium. Rubbing the hands together, rubbing the feet 
on the floor, breathing hard, squeezing hands tightly 
when the chain is formed ; all this provoked the appari- 
tion of the curious luminosities I have spoken about. 
True, these were also produced spontaneously ; but the 
movements executed appeared to me to have an action 
upon their manifestation. 

Here again, the relation with the muscular contrac- 
tion rather than with the movement itself seemed to me 
to exist, but I could not verify this point with the same 
certitude as with raps and movements without contact. 

At all events, all reserves made for fraud, which I 
recognise possible though improbable, chanting or sing- 
ing in common has appeared to me to have a favourable 
influence on the phenomena. I have had occasion of 
verifying this effect of intoned words ; I am unable to 


give its explanation, although we may suspect what it is 
likely to be. I will simply recall to mind the role 
which intoning or singing plays in religious ceremonies 
and in magical operations : the words ' incantations,' 
' enchantments,' are very significative, from that point of 
view. The erudite will remember the magic songs of the 
iith eclogue of Theocritus, and of the 8th of Virgil. 
The Hindoo magicians intone their mentrams. Nothing 
is more widespread than this belief in the supernatural 
virtue of singing, of the cadenced and modulated word. 
As the supernormal facts which I relate appear to me to 
have been known from the earliest times — however ill- 
interpreted they may have been — I am inclined to 
believe, that the superstitions relative to the magical 
power of song are not without a foundation of truth. 
This appears most improbable, and no one is more 
astonished than myself, to find myself admitting this 
possibility. I admit it nevertheless. I am inclined to 
think, that the greater part of popular beliefs have some 
foundation ; the particle of truth which they contain is 
often very feeble, because ignorance, fear, imagination 
mask it under accessory and unreasonable beliefs, which 
smother it. There would be many interesting analogies 
to point out on this subject, if I had not systematically 
forbidden myself all manner of theoretical commentary. 
All the same, I will remark that the most worthy 
spiritists recommend singing or music during seances. 
I will cease, for I can only repeat here the considerations 
which I have already presented concerning the relation 
between the nervous energy, whatever it may be, and 
luminous phenomena ; the connection appears to be very 
close indeed. 


The physiognomical aspect of these phenomena is 
similar to that of sonorous and motor phenomena : It 
tends to personification, and it is probable, that imperfect 
luminous forms are but rude outlines of a real form. 
That form is not always human, although it appears to 
be so as a rule. I have given examples, where the 
appearance was that of an animal or of an object. I 
have never been able to converse with the form itself, 
when it was human ; but I have experimented with 
mediums who thought they conversed with the forms. 
These all claim to be the spirits of deceased persons. 
What renders this unanimity particularly interesting is 
that one of the mediums, with whom 1 have observed the 
finest phenomena of human appearances, is by no means 
a spiritist. 

Is he a victim of hallucination ? It is possible ; but 
then how are we to explain the fragment of truth which 
exists in his hallucination .? I am well aware that im- 
personal memory is an inexhaustible source of knowledge, 
quite unknown to the normal personality ; but there are 
cases, where the hypothesis of hypermnesia is scarcely 
acceptable. Here is an example. The medium, of 
whom I spoke a little while ago, has several times had 
the impression that a deceased person unknown to him, 
but known to me, entered his bedroom. The apparition 
was preceded by a noise of approaching footsteps, the 
door appeared to open, and the form entered. The 
form sat down at the foot of the bed, caressed the 
medium's arm, and took his hand. The sensitive was 
alarmed at these visions, which he looks upon as halluci- 
nations, and does his best to rid himself of. At the 
end of three or four visits the form ceased to show 


itself, to my great regret, for I had therein the occasion 
of making an observation of the highest interest. Un- 
fortunately, I had not sufficient influence over this re- 
markable sensitive, to induce him to lend a hand to the 
development of this phenomenon. The person reputed 
to appear had a very characteristic walk, and it would be 
sufficient for me to describe it, for those who knew the 
man to recognise him at once ; the vision had the same 
characteristic walk. Again, my friend wore whiskers. 
But the vision wore a full short beard, a detail which the 
doctor who attended him in his last illness verified ; my 
friend did not shave towards the end of his life. I was 
not aware of this. 

The medium, living in the same town, could have 
known the man ; but if, contrary to his assertions, he 
had known him, how could he have seen him wearing a 
beard such as he never used to wear ? Interesting detail ! 
since the apparition, purporting to be my friend, wore a 
beard just as my friend had worn, not in his lifetime, 
but at the time of his death. 

Further, the apparition appeared to manifest a desire 
to speak. It tried to reassure the alarmed medium ; but 
the latter always got up and turned on the light, before the 
phantom had time to speak. Now at that moment, an 
event was brewing, of which I would have been thankful 
to have been warned. The incident occurred, and the 
apparition was not seen again. This is an ensemble of 
facts of a nature to arouse attention. I have not been 
able to submit the case to thorough analysis, and I give 
it with reserve. It is the nearest approach to classical 
spiritism, which I have personally met with, but to me 
it does not seem to be convincing under the conditions 



in which I observed it ; for the incident I refer to could 
easily have been foreseen by the medium. 

Other personifications manifested themselves to this 
medium, but their character of apparent identity is less 
certain. One of them, with curious energy, insists that 
he is the person he claims to be : namely, Chappe d'Au- 
teroche, a savant of the last century. His name appears 
in Larousse's Dictionary. The personification gave his 
name correctly, as well as the date of his death and 
where he died. He gave a Christian name which is not 
in Larousse, Adhemar instead of Jean, which the 
Dictionary gives. It would be interesting to know, if 
this name Adhemar is mentioned in other dictionaries. 
I will add that the apparition expresses itself in old 
French, but with a Norman accent. The medium hears 
it say ' moue ' for ' moi,' ' etoue ' for ' etait,' etc. Now 
Chappe was born at Mauriac in Auvergne ; therefore I 
cannot explain why his apparition should have a Norman 
accent. So far, however, I have not carefully analysed 
this personification. 

I would like to have been able to experiment, more 
than I have been able to do, with the sensitive through 
whose medianity I have observed these curious facts. 
Perhaps the publication of this book will interest him, 
and induce him to give himself up to an attentive 

It must not be concluded from what I have just 
related, that the intervention of my friend and of Chappe 
d'Auteroche appears to me to be real. Nothing in my ex- 
perience authorises me to entertain this opinion. I relate 
these facts, because the emergence of these two personifi- 

1 See Chapter vi., * Recent Phenomena, etc' 


cations occurred at seances where I was present, and be- 
cause they are closely associated with phenomena directly 
observed by me. I think we can draw a conclusion 
from these phenomena : it will be noticed that in the 
manner in which these visions are produced, there are 
certain features, which recall to mind the symbolisation 
and dramatisation of dreams. This indication is only 
temporary ; I have not enough elements of appreciation 
to be able to formulate it with any degree of certitude, 
but I point out this feature to experimenters, who, more 
favoured than I, may have opportunities for observing 
analogous phenomena with more convenience and for a 
greater length of time. 

I will terminate these remarks by the recital of 
another fact of the same order, which I witnessed at 
Madame AguUana's. It occurred during an afternoon 
seance at her house. The medium, and two or three 
persons whom I did not know, were seated round a small 
table. One of the visitors was a small landed proprietor 
near Bordeaux, This visitor came for the first time ; 
he was accompanied by a rural constable, whom I knew. 
All at once Madame Agullana said to the newcomer, 
* I see some one, who says he is your uncle ; he wears 
a cap ; his face is red ; he has a long beard ; he has 
sandy-coloured hair ; he smokes a short pipe ; he seems 
to have something the matter with his right arm, it is 
bent across his chest.' . . . She also gave other details. 
The visitor did not speak, a fact of which I took pains 
to assure myself. 

When the details were all given, the visitor said 
that if the apparition claiming to be his uncle, was 
really his uncle, would he kindly say how he was 


addressed in his family. The table dictated typto- 
logically, ' Teuton L. P.' The stranger then said that 
Madame Agullana had given him the exact description 
of a second cousin ^ who had been dead for some months, 
and who, because of his inveterate habit of smoking, 
was nicknamed ' Touton-la-Pipe.' 

I have seen several sincere, trustworthy people receive 
facts of the same kind through Madame Agullana. 
There is notably the history of the discovery of a lost 
debenture, which is curious and interesting ; 1 was able 
to follow the different phases of this discovery. The 
indication appeared to emanate from the deceased 
husband of the owner of the debenture. Notwith- 
standing the interest which these observations presented, 
I cannot analyse them seriously, for they are in- 
sufficiently proved. The character of the medium has 
always seemed to me irreproachable, and her good faith 
above all suspicion ; but the circumstances do not per- 
mit of an exact judgment. Neither do I consider 
myself authorised to affirm that the personality of 
' Touton-la-Pipe ' was quite unknown to the medium. 
The discovery of the debenture is perhaps only a 
coincidence. I have, however, related these facts to 
indicate the possibility of an order of research of a 
particularly suggestive nature. Some of the more in- 
fluential members of the English Society for Psychical 
Research, Myers, Lodge, Hodgson, Hyslop, have 
entered upon these studies under excellent conditions 
of observation, and consider that they have been in 
communication with their deceased friends. I have not 

^ In France, a male cousin once removed is sometimes called 'oncle a 
la mode de Bretagne.' 


had the same chances, and my own experiences tend to 
make me adopt a different way of thinking. It is 
very possible that my colleagues are right, and I am 

Finally, the third statement which my observations 
permit me to make, is that the production of forms and 
luminous phenomena is accompanied with much fatigue 
on the part of the observers. I have already frequently 
pointed out this circumstance. On the occasion of the 
production of the facts described in the present chapter, 
I noticed certain peculiarities, which I will point out to 
the attention of experimenters. Fatigue is not felt in 
an equal degree by all the sitters. Some seem to feel 
none at all ; and, as a rule, these latter are not good 
auxiliaries. It looks as though some persons were not 
capable of emitting the force employed. Others, on 
the contrary, emit it with great facility and tire quickly, 
I have not been able to study the relation which may 
exist, between the temperament of these two kinds of 
sitters and the production of the phenomena ; but I 
have the impression, that this relation ought to exist ; 
it appears to me in a function of the organism rather 
than in a rapport with the mental condition or moods. 
This makes one think of the belief professed by spiritists 
concerning incredulity. In several spiritistic groups 
failure is attributed to the presence of incredulous sitters ; 
I am persuaded, that the beliefs of experimenters have 
nothing at all to do with the production of the 
phenomena observed, though it is certainly necessary 
to experiment seriously and without bias. I touched 
upon the results of my observations in that respect, 
when speaking about the harmony of the circle. The 


influence of bias would be explained, if the apparent 
consciousness of the personification could be considered 
as composed of the elementary consciousness of the 
sitters. This hypothesis does not appear to me to be 
demonstrated ; but some of my experiments have made 
me think of its possibility, and I consider it ought to be 
submitted to examination. Things seem to happen, as 
though the nervous influx of the sitters created a field 
of force around the experimenters, and more especially 
the medium : Each experimenter would then act as a 
dynamogenic element, and would enter, for a variable 
part, into the production of the liberated energy. This 
energy would act beyond the apparent limits of the 
body, under conditions analogous to those governing its 
intracorporal action ; that is to say, it would remain, 
to a certain extent, in connection with the superior or 
inferior nervous centres, conscious or unconscious. In 
■ this case we could understand, how the energy appears 
to depend, to a certain extent, upon the will of the 
sitters or the medium. We can even explain that it 
should appear to manifest an independent will, if its pro- 
duction were due to the activity of the nervous centres, 
the action of which is independent of ordinary conscious- 
ness. In that hypothesis, none of the sitters would 
recognise the trace of their normal personality in the 
evolution of the phenomena ; and this is what generally 
happens. Sometimes, however, the medium or one of 
the sitters has the feeling, more or less precise, that 
a phenomenon is about to take place. Eusapia Paladino 
often announces what is coming. In this case the 
nervous energy, employed to realise the phenomenon, 
would be in connection with the conscious nervous 


centres of the medium only ; and she would appear to 
the sitters to be subjected to an extraneous personal 
will. Eusapia attributes it to ' John,' who seems to 
have the characteristics of a secondary personality. 
Such appears to me to be the genesis of the personifi- 
cation, in the greater number of cases observed by me. 
There are others, however, where this explication is 
less satisfactory. 

I do not hide from myself how difficult it is to admit 
the hypothesis I have just formulated. We are ill- 
prepared to consider the psychic force as identical, at 
least in its essence, with that which circulates in our 
nerves ; and we are no better prepared to believe, that 
this force may be able to serve as a vehicle to a part 
of our personal or subliminal consciousness, or to think 
that it can preserve any connection with our psychic 
centres, when it acts beyond the limits of the body. 
Nevertheless, it looks as though it were really so, in the 
greater number of cases. 

These data suffice to render comprehensible the 
possible mechanism of raps and movements without 
contact. It is not even necessary to suppose that the 
nervous force acts beyond the limits of the body, if 
we admit that the experimenters create around them 
a sort of magnetic field. The nervous force would 
reach a maximum of potentiality in the experimenters 
or in the medium ; the objects placed within the field 
would have a different potentiality ; according to the 
conditions, we would have phenomena of attraction or 

In this way we could understand motor phenomena. 
Raps are less easily explained, unless we consider them 


as facts analogous to electrical discharges. The rap 
would then be equivalent to the noise of a spark ; it 
would be invisible, though in some cases it might be 

Lights and forms raise problems much more difficult 
of solution. They may be susceptible of the following 
explanation : we will suppose that particles of a very 
attenuated substance, e.g. the ether or any other kind of 
rarefied matter, existed capable of being acted upon by 
nerve force ; they would become charged, and dispersed, 
according to the lines of force, and these lines would be 
determined by the action of nerve centres, and would 
take form corresponding to those particular centres. They 
would have a certain plasticity, if I may thus express 
myself, and this plasticity would be in connection with 
those centres, possessing preponderating physiological 

If this connection existed with the superior ideative 
centres, we would have intelligible, definite forms, such 
as faces of human beings, heads of animals, and objects ; 
should connection with the inferior centres be estabUshed, 
undefined forms only would be obtained. 

Their luminosity would depend upon the state of con- 
densation of this rarefied matter of which they are 
constituted. Those subject to lesser condensation would 
be the most luminous ; and it might happen, that a form 
of greater density would be surrounded by a luminous 
atmosphere of lesser density. 

One could, in this way, explain the relative indepen- 
dence of the forms, and phosphorescent nature of the 

These are the hypotheses which might be made. I 


indicate them with much reserve, simply to show the 
theoretical route towards which my experience tends to 
direct me. 1 set them forth summarily, without dis- 
cussing them in detail. 1 do not conceal from myself 
the fact that my ideas are far from being definite, and 
that the hypotheses I timidly express would fare badly 
under rigorous analysis. I have found no better, and 
I have the impression that they ought to contain a 
particle of truth. 

I beg to be excused for having again infringed upon 
the rule I imposed on myself, for having presented 
purely theoretical considerations, which I am the first to 
acknowledge as premature. I have not seen the curious 
facts I relate without trying to penetrate into their 
cause, nor have I been able to resist the desire to make 
known, not what is a definite opinion, but what is for 
me a hypothesis worth examining. 

Besides the phenomena described in this and preceding 
chapters, I have observed others which might be com- 
pared with them, for they seem to me to have a certain 
connection with them. I refer to tactile sensations such 
as touch, contact, and stamped impressions, etc. I will 
briefly describe them. 

I. It is only with Eusapia Paladino, that I have felt 
tactile sensations in a positive manner. With this 
medium certain sitters, and especially those seated next 
to her, have the feeling of being touched on the back, 
on the arms, and hands, on the head and body. The 
phenomenon is usually produced under the following 
conditions. Eusapia's hands being or appearing to be 
held by her neighbours, the latter see the curtains come 
near them, and then feel themselves touched. The touch 


is sometimes given without any movement of the cur- 
tains. The sensation of the touch varies : it is now 
that of a finger which is thrust into the thigh, now of a 
large hand resting on the back, now fingers pinching 
you, or seizing you on the head, the neck, chin, etc. 
Numerous examples of these contacts will be found in 
the report of the I'Agnelas experiments {Annales des 
Sciences Psychiques, 1896). 

In our seances at Choisy 1896, the same phenomenon 
was often reproduced. In that series we were careful 
to have as much light as possible ; we arranged a system 
of different coloured lights. One of the lights which 
gave us the best results was that of a lantern, the glass 
sides of which were replaced by parchment. It gave a 
softened yellowish light. From the private account of 
these seances I take the following extracts. Seance of 
the 8 th October : — 

' Eusapia's hands are still held and seen on the table. 
The Colonel then feels several touches, and a large 
hand rubs him through the curtains, on the top of his 
head.' ... A more curious phenomenon happened 
before that ; but only one of the medium's hands was 

* At the medium's request the lamp is turned in 
such a way as to lessen the light, which, however, is still 
sufficient to enable us to distinguish faces and hands 
by their whiteness. MM. de Rochas and de Gramont 
change places ; Eusapia's hands are seen and held by 
General Thomassin on the left and M, de Gramont on 
the right. Eusapia frees her left hand for a moment, 
brings a part of the curtain on to the table, and glides 
her hand underneath it, in order to shelter it from the 


light ; the General regains possession of the hand — 
under the curtain — and does not abandon it any more. 
The other hand, held by M. de Gramont, remains visible 
to every one. Almost instantly. General Thomassin 
feels on his thigh — and through the curtains, which 
bulge out in consequence — slight contacts ; then the 
sensation of a pinch ; afterwards, he distinguishes the 
contact of a woman's small hand, followed by the con- 
tact of a man's large hand. After that, he is struck 
with force on the shoulders and head by a large hand, 
outside the curtains. Every one hears the sound of 
the blows, and sees the hand ; but every one sees the 
hand in a different fashion. M. de Rochas hardly sees 
it at all ; General Thomassin sees it as greyish green ; 
M. Watteville and M. Gramont see it as grey; M. 
Maxwell as greyish yellow. Eusapia determines different 
movements of the fluidic hand by mimicking them with 
her right hand, which is held by M. Gramont in sight 
of every one.' 

This observation is interesting, but at first glance it 
appears very suspicious, because of the care taken by 
the medium to hide her hand under the curtain. General 
Thomassin held her hand well ; I do not doubt but that 
it was Eusapia's hand he held ; but let us accept for a 
moment the hypothesis of an artificial hand, which 
Eusapia had adroitly given to the General to hold. This 
is Dr. Hodgson's explanation. In that case, how would 
the hand, which touched General Thomassin, have been 
able to move over his back and head and strike him 
without any movement of the left arm being perceived .? 
It is to be noted that the light was sufficient, and that 
the hand which gave the touches was seen by nearly all 


the observers. That hand was outside the curtains. I 
remember another seance held in the afternoon, in the 
course of which touches were lavished on all the experi- 
menters, even on those who were furthest away fi'om the 

In the three series of experiments, 1895, 1896, and 
1897, made with Eusapia, I have had occasion of 
repeatedly verifying the phenomenon of touch. It 
appeared certain to me in a great number of cases. But 
it is a suspicious phenomenon, because of the extreme 
facility with which it can be simulated. 

I remember a series of fraudulent experiments, in the 
course of which several touches were given. The first 
touches, through the curtains, made me think of the 
contacts obtained with Eusapia ; but obscurity reigned 
complete, and I have reason to believe that the medium's 
left-hand neighbour touched me with a stick. I was 
also touched on the knee, but it was by a very natural 
hand, which belonged to one of the experimenters, a 
man of inferior intellect. Inexperienced people are 
easily deceived by these contacts ; however, the marked 
difference which exists between the falsidical and the 
veridical is quickly perceived, when we have become 
accustomed to these phenomena. I do not advise 
experimenters to put themselves under the conditions 
in which these facts are observed, as they are very 
unfavourable for the examination of the phenomenon. 
These conditions, as far as I have been able to judge, 
are : — (i) the formation of a chain around a table, the 
medium being seated with his back to the curtains 
of the cabinet ; (2) an extremely feeble light, or none 
at all. It is only with Eusapia that I have obtained 


touches with light, and even then the light was of the 

These touches, besides having the inconvenience of 
carrying little conviction with them, because of the con- 
ditions under which they are obtained, have also the 
disadvantage of impressioning persons who are easily 
moved and frightened. I have seen very courageous 
people affected by these touches. Therefore we must 
not try to obtain them, until we are already familiarised 
with the observation of physical phenomena. 

It is to be noted, that the phenomenon of attouchement 
presents the characteristics pointed out in those I have 
already examined. In the first place, we note the corre- 
lation which exists between the movements of the medium 
and the contact. I gave an example just now, when re- 
lating the phenomena of which General Thomassin was the 
object. The movements of the right hand which touched 
him were mimicked by Eusapia's right hand, which was 
visible, held by M. de Gramont, and seen by every one. 

Here is another example, taken from my notes, in 
which synchronous movements were executed by one of 
the experimenters : — 

' John ' (the secondary personality) ' then asks M. 
Rochas, who holds Eusapia's left hand in his right 
hand, to put his left hand on Eusapia's neck, the 
fingers stretched out as though in the act of magnetis- 
ing ; he then tells him to lower his fingers. M. Rochas 
executes the movement several times, and each time 
M. Maxwell, who holds the medium's right hand, feels 
synchronous touches on his right shoulder, which is, at 
the very least, eighteen inches away from the medium.' 
This fact may be compared with those I indicated when 


dealing with raps and motor or luminous phenomena. 
We see how constant the relation is between the 
medium's movements and the phenomenon. This is 
a first general ascertainment. If I might venture to 
use the expression, I would say that we are in the 
presence of one of the first laws governing the pro- 
duction of these paranormal phenomena. I have not 
sufficiently observed the phenomenon of touch to be 
able to say, that the relation indicated exists between 
the muscular contraction and the phenomenon, rather 
than between the phenomenon and the movement exe- 
cuted ; but some facts, far too few, it is true, tend to 
make me think it is so. 

Finally, the experimenters, and especially the medium, 
are very fatigued after the production of the phenomenon 
of touch. 

The influence of light seems to be very unfavourable. 
I have not had occasion of observing touches in full 
light, as I have so often done with raps and movements 
without contact. Almost total obscurity was necessary 
with Eusapia. This circumstance brings the phenomenon 
oi attouchement into conjunction with that of materialisa- 
tion. This is interesting, for if the touches are due to 
the condensation of some matter, as materialised forms 
appear to be, there is room to think that the two pheno- 
mena are closely connected, and that it is the same 
substance which, in becoming condensed, produces them 
both. This is what I have observed, notably at TAgnelas, 
when I saw a hand and arm touch M. Sabatier's head, at 
the moment the latter mentioned having been touched 
on the head. 

We see how much a calm and impartial examination 


of the facts reveals common conditions for their pro- 
duction, and similarities between some among them. 

II. Stamped impressions or imprints bring us into the 
presence of a category of phenomena of the same order. 
Pressure appears to be exercised upon a material sub- 
stance instead of upon the sitters. If that substance be 
soft enough, the impression of the form which has 
exercised the pressure may be left upon it. I have 
only twice observed this phenomenon, and that was 
with Eusapia. It was at Choisy in 1896. The first 
time, we obtained the impression of the mounts of the 
fingers in lamp-black. The conditions of observation 
were not good. The second time, the impression was 
marked in clay. I take the following extract from our 
report : — 

' The dish containing the plastic clay is put in the 
centre of the table. Almost immediately the dish, 
which weighs nearly four lbs., is lifted up and placed in 
equilibrium on the left arm of M. de Rochas, whose 
left hand continues to hold Eusapia's right hand. M. de 
Rochas feels three distinct, successive pressures of the 
dish resting on his arm ; then a friendly pressure on the 
back of his arm apprises him, that the phenomenon is 
accomplished. We carry the dish away at once, and in 
the daylight we see finger-prints in the clay ; the prints 
look as though the fingers had been enveloped in some 
material of fine texture, the woof being distinctly visible 
in the clay.' I did not observe this fact with enough 
precision to be able to retain it as a demonstrated fact. 
I point it out, nevertheless, because it permits one to 
preserve the material trace of the phenomenon. Other 
observers have obtained better imprints with Eusapia. 


I have seen some which represent a distorted likeness of 
the medium's face, I think this phenomenon ought to 
be observed with care, if one has the occasion to meet 
with mediums capable of producing it. I will point out 
the following fact to the attention of possible observers : 
the almost constant presence of a kind of woof, as if 
the object which made the impression was covered with 
thin gauze. This circumstance is at first sight sus- 
picious ; but here, again, as always when we are in 
presence of these unfamiliar manifestations, we must 
not be in too great a hurry to conclude in fraud, and 
say that the medium put a wet piece of gauze over face 
and hands, in order to avoid soiling the loam and bearing 
tell-tale traces of cheating. But I recognise that this is 
the explanation which ought to present itself before any 
other ; and we must not put it to one side, unless we 
have sufficient reasons for doing so. At the same time, 
we must not jump to the conclusion of fraud solely 
because of this gauzy appearance. There is something 
interesting in the presence of this gauze. The faces I 
have seen were all framed in a sort of milky-looking 
veil. Personally, I have rarely seen faces free of this. 
I have not observed it around material objects nor 
around animals' heads. Neither do I observe it in 
hypnagogic illusions. I will point out the following 
observation of MM. Brincard and Bechade on the 
subject : — 

' M. de Rochas feels himself touched on the face as 
though by a beard, and sees standing out in relief, 
against the part of the room best lighted up by the 
window, a long black lock of wavy hair. MM. Brincard 
and Bechade have the sensation that their heads are 


enveloped in transparent black gauze, which seems to 
fall on to their shoulders ; it disappears before they have 
time to seize it.' 

I did not notice these traces of tissue, with the 
undoubtedly fraudulent impressions which have been 
shown me or done in my presence. I am going to 
give an example, to show how an attentive examination 
can reveal fraud. 

At a seance, I was one day shown the impression in 
some plastic substance of a small death's head ; a young 
man presented it to me as an authentic impression. This 
appeared abnormal to me, for a death's head is not a 
common thing in serious seances, and for my part I 
have never seen a repugnant or painful phenomenon. 
An attentive examination revealed to me traces of the 
finger-tips, which had held the object while it was being 
pressed on the plastic substance. 

At another seance at which I was present, one of the 
experimenters prepared some plates of cement. He 
placed them himself upon the top of a wardrobe. At 
the end of the seance finger-prints were found in the 
cement. These prints had been made while the experi- 
menter was placing the plate on the wardrobe, and, of 
course, normally made by him. In these two cases, the 
impressions were distinct and bore no traces of woof. 
Therefore, such traces are not necessarily indications of 
fraud, since tricksters do not always use material to 
preserve themselves from stains, when they make the 
fraudulent impression. 

As for photographs, I have never obtained any para- 
normal ones. It is true I have given no attention to 
this order of experimentation. I will say nothing about 



it therefore, since I have no personal fact of interest 
to relate thereon. The existence of paranormal photo- 
graphy is affirmed by sincere and honourable men, and 
their experiments deserve to be resumed. The method 
of operating is simple. The medium is photographed in 
daylight, when in a state of trance ; photography by 
magnesium light is not to be recommended for many 
reasons, chiefly because it renders fraud particularly easy 
of execution. Never use any but your own plates, 
never let them out of your possession for an instant, 
change the plates yourself, expose and develop them 

I remember one of my friends, a superior military 
officer, once showed me some extraordinary photographs, 
on which we saw abnormal forms beside the medium. 
I told my friend he had been imposed upon. Too 
honest himself to admit he could be the victim of dis- 
loyal trickery, the officer put no faith in my criticisms, 
and assured me that the photographs had been taken by 
himself with his own camera, and declared he had not 
lost sight of the apparatus for a second. His affirma- 
tions did not modify my opinion. Later on, when care- 
fully discussing the conditions of the experiment, the 
officer acknowledged that he had interrupted the seance 
for lunch, and had left his camera at the medium's house 
in the meanwhile. — The latter had taken advantage of 
his absence either to change the plates and substitute 
exposed ones, or to make a fraudulent exposure on my 
friend's plates. 

The author of this fraud was, moreover, obliged to 
acknowledge the imposture. I wonder what motive this 
young man could have had in cheating ! I believe he 


acted out of pure childishness — having a tendency to 

In photography there are several ways of defrauding ; 
the most usual is by double exposure. A shrewd use of 
sulphite of quinine permits of certain curious operations, 
it appears. I have not verified this. 




Under this somewhat vague title I am bringing certain 
facts together, which differ greatly from those I have 
been examining. In reality, the facts so far related by 
me refer to material manifestations, and it was merely 
as an accessory, that I pointed out the intelligent character 
some of these manifestations presented. I will now 
describe the means best adapted for obtaining not physical 
but intellectual phenomena, properly so-called ; that is to 
say, phenomena which are interesting solely because of 
the ideas expressed, or because of the signification of the 
images produced, and not at all because of the conditions 
under which they are obtained. 

I have studied this category of phenomena with less 
interest than sonorous, motor or luminous phenomena, 
where observation is relatively simple. Intellectual 
phenomena can only be studied indirectly, and in order 
to verify them, we are generally obliged to trust to the 
statement of a third person. I think these are bad 
conditions of observation. This reserve made, I will 
divide these phenomena into two wide categories : — 

1. Sensory automatism. 

2. Motor automatism. 



I thus designate phenomena produced by the spon- 
taneous activity of our senses, and which do not appear 
to be due to exterior excitation. They border on 
hallucination. They are observed in the different sensory 
spheres. I will only examine olfactory, auditory, and 
visual sensations ; tactile impressions were studied in the 
last chapter. As for gustatory sensations, they are very 
rare and without interest. 

(a) Olfactory sensations. — These consist of a special 
odour. I have never observed any in the seances at 
which I have been present. In one series, however, 
the medium associated the odour of Jasmine with the 
manifestation of certain personifications. To me this 
sensation seemed to be purely subjective ; it was 

An odour of ozone is often perceived after luminous 
phenomena have been obtained, a fact which ought to be 
borne in mind. It may be compared with the odour 
of ozone, perceived in the vicinity of powerful static 
machines, which give off electricity at very high potentiality. 
Here is an analogy which is, perhaps, not altogether 
fortuitous ; these facts, however, are unintelligible. 

{}?) Auditory sensations. — I do not speak of sonorous 
phenomena. I now enter directly into the study of 
intellectual phenomena, that is to say, phenomena having 
a signification more or less precise and intelligible. 

Auditory phenomena may be divided into two cate- 
gories : provoked automatisms, and spontaneous auto- 
matisms or clairaudience. The first may be considered 
as hallucinations induced by diverse methods. The 


simplest method consists in the use of certain shells, 
horns, trumpets, or, in a word, any object capable of 
augmenting and allowing the perception of those external 
or internal sounds, which are not usually perceptible 
to the hearing. This is what is observed particularly 
with some sea-shells. When we apply them to the ear, 
we hear a murmur or a slight rumbling sound. This 
sensation is common to every one, and children are 
accustomed to play at ' listening to the sound of the sea 
in the sea-shells.' 

Some people do not hear this sound, or rather, when 
they listen, it quickly disappears and makes way for 
words and phrases. I know a subject with whom this 
faculty exists, but circumstances, unfortunately, have 
prevented me from studying him carefully. I point 
out, to the attention of observers, the interest which 
this automatism presents ; the rapidity of communica- 
tion is very great ; in this way there is a greater output 
than with automatic writing, and it is less tiring for the 
sensitive. The only precaution to observe is to take 
down all he says in shorthand. We must accustom him 
to repeat, instantly, everything he hears, because words 
heard in this way are speedily forgotten — as in dream — 
but amnesia is not the sole point of resemblance between 
this automatism and dream. It has much analogy with 
visual automatism, but it has an interesting advantage 
over the latter. Visual images are those which offer the 
highest degree of symbolism ; they are vague, wanting in 
precision, and require interpretation. Auditory hallucin- 
ations, on the contrary, have greater precision. Perhaps 
this is due to language, the usual manner in which 
auditory images are revealed. On the other hand, they 


are not so rich, and contain less detail than visual 
images do. 

The meaning of auditory messages is seldom very 
clear ; but there are cases where it is wonderfully so. 
Such are the chief features of provoked auditory pheno- 
mena. I have given too little attention to this phase of 
manifestation, to be able to enter into a more complete 
analysis of it. 

Clairaudience is more frequent ; perhaps this is due to 
the negligence of experimenters, who do not think of 
using the methods of induction I have just described. 

I have rarely observed the existence of isolated 
auditory hallucinations ; I have always observed them 
associated with visual hallucinations ; therefore I will 
study them after these last, when examining mixed 

(c) Visual sensations. — Observable, visual phenomena 
are very numerous, and have already been the object of 
exhaustive studies. I will again divide these into pro- 
voked and spontaneous phenomena. Of course, I am 
speaking of hallucinations experienced by sensitives out 
of seance hours. In this part of my analysis, I am 
replacing the word medium by the word sensitive^ which 
seems to me to define more correctly the distinguishing 
features, of those persons who have the faculties I am 
going to describe. This word conveys the correct 
idea, that the facts observed belong to the sphere of 

One of the oldest known methods of inducing visual 
hallucination is the use of a crystal ball. I have no need 
to recall to mind the practices of former fortune-tellers, 
nor the history of John Dee, nor the numerous recitals 


handed down to us by ancient chroniclers, novelists, etc. 
The crystal ball and the black mirror are the best 
methods ; but the ordinary mirror, a glass of water, a 
decanter, a shoemaker's wooden ball, the finger-nail, the 
watch-glass, any polished surface, in fact, may serve to 
induce hallucination ; but I only recommend the first 
methods — they are certainly the best ; a glass of water, 
a decanter, a syphon of seltzer-water, the thumb-nail, 
polished surfaces, etc., may serve to induce hallucination, 
but these last methods only succeed with very highly 
sensitive subjects. 

I have carefully studied crystal-gazing, and though I 
have remarked individual differences in each sensitive, 
I think I may say that, as far as working methods are 
concerned, I have come to the following conclusions : — 

The material of which the object is composed is not 
a matter of indifference. Balls of rock-crystal have 
given me the best results. I have seen people, incapable 
of receiving visions with ordinary glass, obtain them in 
a tiny ball of natural crystal. Objects in rock-crystal 
have the inconvenience of being very expensive. 

Ordinary glass gives good results, but care should be 
taken that the ball contains no air bubbles or other 
defects. They must be as homogeneous as possible. 

The ball may be spherical or egg-shaped. I think 
the elliptical form is, perhaps, the best ; reflections are 
more easily avoided with this shape. 

The size is a matter of indifference ; personally, I 
prefer rather large balls. I have, nevertheless, obtained 
just as good results with balls of only one centimetre in 
diameter as with balls of six or seven centimetres in 


The crystal may be white, blue, violet, yellow, green ; 
it may be opalescent or transparent ; but, I think, the 
best results are obtained with white transparent balls ; 
blue or amethyst coloured crystals are also very good, 
and tire the eyes less than others/ 

When looking into the ball, it should be sheltered 
from reflection, as it should offer a uniform tint, with- 
out any brilliant points. To obtain this result, it may 
be enveloped in a piece of dark foulard or velvet, or 
held in the hollow of the hand, or even at the finger- 
tips, provided the conditions mentioned above have been 
observed. The object ought to be placed within the range 
of normal vision ; the gaze should not be directed on 
to the surface of the crystal, but in the crystal itself. The 
knack of gazing inside the crystal is speedily acquired. 

Mirrors also give very good results. They can be 
made like ordinary mirrors, or black like the famous 
mirrors of Bhatta, which are made of a special com- 
position. Sensitives say that the mirror should not 
reflect anything : it should present a uniform tint, e.g. 
that of the sky, blue or grey, but without the mixture of 
these colours as would be the case with a cloudy sky ; in a 
room the ceiling may be reflected, if it be monochrome. 

Under these conditions of operation I have some- 

^ As crystal-gazing seems to me one of the most curious phenomena to 
study, I will take the liberty of mentioning that well-made crystal balls may 
be found at Leymarie, 42 Rue Saint-Jacques, Paris ; at the Society for 
Psychical Research, 20 Hanover Square, London, W. ; or Mrs. Venman, 
Sugden Road, Lavender Hill, London, S.W. The price of the globes 
varies from 6s. to 9s. ; those of ovoids, from 8s. to los. The best thing 
to do would be to look for a ball in rock-crystal, the price of which would 
vary from 4.S. to ^8. They must be cut to order, for it is extremely difficult 
to find any ready made. M. Servan, jeweller at Bordeaux, furnishes good 


times observed results so extraordinary, as to confound 
the imagination. They appeared to me to tend towards 
demonstrating Kant's idea of the relativity and contin- 
gency of time and space. It is very difficult to admit, 
that these two ordi nates of our perceptions are exactly 
what they seem to be, unless we push the theory of 
coincidence to the absurd. But this would be shutting 
the door on all discussion, and on all intelligent exami- 
nation of a fact apparently abnormal. 

My observations have been made with different 
persons, and a great many have been pointed out to me. 
Sensitives, possessing the faculty of seeing in the crystal, 
are not rare. The analysis of the facts I have observed, 
or of which I hold first-hand reports, allows me to class 
these 'hallucinations ' (?) under six categories of increasing 
interest : — 

A. Imagination— images, ordinary hallucination. 

B. Forgotten souvenirs, recalled to memory in the 
form of visions. 

C. Passed events, of which the sensitive affirms to 
have always been ignorant. 

D. Present events, certainly unknown to the sensi- 

E. Future events. 

F. Facts of doubtful interpretation. 

This grouping shows the curious gradation observed 
in these visions. First of all, disorderly and illogical 
activity as in dreams ; then, more orderly activity : 
knowledge of forgotten facts, knowledge of past events 
unknown to the sensitive, knowledge of present events 
unknown to the sensitive, apparent prescience. I will 
give some examples. 


A. Imagination — images are by far the most frequent. 
This phenomenon is analogous to ordinary visual hallu- 
cination, and seems to me to present the characteristic 
features of dream. This is hardly the place to discuss 
the state of consciousness during dream ; for the form 
I am giving my recital would not bear any long psycho- 
logical analyses. I will simply confine myself to resuming 
the conclusions of the detailed analysis, which I made 
in a work dealing with this subject. 

The consciousness which works habitually in us, that 
which is manifested in our everyday life, is xh^ personal 
consciousness. It is around this that are grouped the 
souvenirs accessible to our normal personality, to that 
part of ourselves which we call ' I,' This personal con- 
sciousness asserts itself in the highest acts of the psychic 
life, in the comparison of images one with another, in 
abstraction, judgment, and the voluntary selection of acts, 
which appear to us equally possible. This selection is 
the expression of our voluntary activity, personally con- 
scious ; it is determined by the comparison of acts 
between themselves, by the examination of their pro- 
bable advantageous or disadvantageous consequences, by 
the appreciation of their morality or immorality, accord- 
ing to the social laws of the day, etc. Personal con- 
sciousness is the foundation of all our intelligent life ; 
practically, it alone appears to exist, and its disappear- 
ance seems to us to annihilate our own personality. 

In reality, such is not the case. With certain invalids, 
complete or partial modifications of the personal con- 
sciousness may be observed. Sometimes the notion of 
personality disappears. There are patients who suddenly 
forget everything, even to their own name. All their 


antecedent life is effaced, and they appear to return to 
the state they were in at birth. They have to learn 
again how to speak, to eat, and to dress themselves. 
Sometimes the amnesia is not so complete. I have been 
able to observe a patient, who had forgotten everything 
which had any connection whatever with his own 
personality. He was absolutely ignorant of all he had 
ever done, did not remember where he was born, who 
his parents were, or what his name was. He was thirty 
years of age. 

Organic memory and memories organised apart from 
the personahty subsisted. He could read, write, draw, 
and displayed a certain amount of musical talent. 
Amnesia, with him, was limited to all facts connected with 
his antecedent personality ; it presented the type of 
systematised losses of memory. This is what is called 
in medical phraseology amnesie de depersonnalisation. 

In a lesser degree, amnesia only affects limited periods 
of life. Epileptics and hysterics often present the 
phenomenon of ecmnesia^ a term chosen by the eminent 
professor of clinical medicine at the university of Bor- 
deaux, M. Pitres, who was the first to point out this 
phenomenon with hysterical subjects. The patient 
forgets a part of his life, believes he is ten, fifteen, thirty 
years younger than he really is, and behaves as though 
he were at the age he thinks he is. The souvenirs of 
his ulterior life cease to be accessible to his conscious 
personality, which finds itself brought back exclusively 
to the elements which constituted it, at the time the 
ecmnesia carries him to. Every idea, foreign to that 
diminished personality, remains unintelligible to him. In 
order to make him understand, we must speak to him 


only of what he knew at the epoch to which he has been 
brought back. 

Besides these disappearances or amoindrissements de la 
personnalite of the personal consciousness, which may be 
permanent or transitory, we also observe qualitative 
without quantitative alterations of the personal conscious- 
ness. These are changes or variations of personality, 
which have been well studied in hysterical subjects, but 
which also exist in other invalids, notably epileptics and 
victims of certain poisons.^ 

To sum up, the personal consciousness is susceptible 
of total or partial disappearance, or of being replaced by 
another consciousness which can be absolutely foreign to 
the normal personal consciousness, or preserve more or 
less close relationship with it, e.g. the patient who under- 
goes a change of personality may retain all the souvenirs 
of the normal personality A and those of the new 
personality B. But in an almost absolute manner the 
normal personality A is ignorant of all which concerns 
B. This is the type of periodical amnesia. 

The clinical study of diseases of personality permits 
observation of the above facts. I ought to say that, in 
practice, they do not present the simplicity of the schema 
which I have just given. Curious problems arise from 
the nature itself of amnesia, its degree, its mechanism, 
problems impossible to treat here. 

But the facts I have summarily exposed already reveal 
an important truth, which curable, transitory amnesia 

^ Interested readers will find a complete analysis of these facts in Azam's 
celebrated work, Hypnotisme et double conscience, Alcan ; in Pitres' book, 
Lefons sur Vhysterie, Alcan; and in Janet's L" automatisme psyc/iologique, 
Alcan. It is essential to know at least these three books, if we wish to 
observe, profitably, the delicate phenomena I am discussing in this chapter. 


clearly demonstrates : this is, that souvenirs can exist in 
a latent state in the general consciousness, and be in- 
accessible to the personal consciousness. Let us suppose 
that A forgets the ten previous years of his life — the 
result of a fall or nervous crisis. This amnesia will 
perhaps last for six months, during which period he will 
believe himself to have returned to the age of fifteen, 
when he is really twenty-five. All the events of his life 
between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five will have 
entirely disappeared from his memory for six months ; 
then they will, more or less abruptly, reappear. Their 
temporary disappearance clearly shows that these souvenirs 
have been preserved somewhere, and that they were not 
really lost. We cannot affirm that they were accessible 
to the general and impersonal consciousness in every 
case ; but nevertheless we can affirm it for hysteria, 
according to the observations of Pitres, Janet, and 
others ; and, according to Regis, for certain poisons. 
The facts studied by these savants show, that souvenirs 
inaccessible to the normal personality were known to the 
general consciousness. For example, an amnesic patient 
can recover all his souvenirs when he is put to sleep ; 
this is what Regis has demonstrated even in certain cases 
of amnesia from blood-poisoning. Janet, on his side, 
has established that these souvenirs, forgotten by the 
personal consciousness, can be evoked by certain auto- 
matisms (notably automatic writing), and are therefore 
at the disposition of the impersonal consciousness, that is 
to say, of that general consciousness of which personal 
consciousness seems to be only a part. 

This fact, which the study of nervous pathology has 
demonstrated, is certainly general. The troubles of 


hysteria and other nervous diseases only exaggerate a 
normal phenomenon. Our personality does not burden 
itself with all the souvenirs, which our general conscious- 
ness appears to possess : the greater part of the things 
we have seen, learned, heard, etc., are forgotten ; but 
this forgetfulness is probably relative, and only extends 
to the personal consciousness. It is also variable, and, 
according to circumstances, the souvenirs accumulated in 
the general consciousness are at one time more accessible 
to the personal consciousness, and less so at another 
time. If the personal memory be over-excited, exalte^ 
we have hypermnesia. The facts which spring up in the 
personal consciousness have been so completely forgotten 
by it that they sometimes appear to be new ; souvenirs 
present themselves to the consciousness without being 
identified by it, and we commit errors on the localisation 
of the mnesic image in time and space ; this is what we 
call paramnesia. 

The variations of the personal consciousness relative 
to memory, whose role in the constitution of the person- 
ality of the self is preponderant, are therefore translated 
clinically by amnesias, hypermnesias, paramnesias ; but the 
variations pointed out are not limited to memory, they 
extend to other operations of the mind. I indicated 
just now, that the personal consciousness was only a facet 
of that more general consciousness existing -in us, a con- 
sciousness where all antecedent experiences are piled up, 
where all our sensations are registered, be our personal 
consciousness aware or unaware of them. This general 
consciousness is in itself impersonal, at least in relation 
to our normal personality. This latter is only one of 
the currents which circulate in that consciousness, its 


preponderance, as Myers has indicated, is probably only 
a consequence of its greater practical utility in daily life, 
and not an indication of its absolute superiority ; but 
there is one thing to point out, this is that we are accus^ 
tomed to connect with that personal consciousness all 
the operations of our usual intelligence. Our reasonings, 
volitions, judgments, whatever they may be, are grouped 
around our conscious personality, or rather are founded 
upon its apparent activity. The consequence is, that 
every time the sentiment of personality in the conscious- 
ness varies, our reasonings, volitions, and judgments will 
vary in the same proportion. Thoughts which come to 
us will cease to be chosen by us, and will apparently 
come of their own accord ; their associations will escape 
all logic, their succession will be rapid and incoherent for 
our personality, which will look on at their evolution 
powerless to direct it. The weakening of the sentiment 
of personal participation, in the acts of the psychical life, 
is then translated by the diminution of our faculty to 
choose the images evoked in the consciousness, by the 
diminution of our power of control over their evolution, 
by the helplessness in which we are, not only to judge 
them according to the rules of reason, but also to reject 
the most illogical interpretations, which offer themselves 
to us or impose themselves upon us. In a word, the 
weakening of the will, of the judgment, is associated 
with that of the personal consciousness. 

We also observe a corresponding attenuation in the 
faculty of abstraction. Ideas are accompanied by their 
pictured or motor representations. Sometimes they are 
only expressed by pictures, and are presented in a 
symbolical form, or are dramatised ; e.g. the idea of the 


death of a relative will not be expressed with precision, 
as is sometimes the case in verbal or written hallucina- 
tions, but by a picture representing the relation in a 
coffin, or depicting his burial. 

Such are the psychological expressions of the weaken- 
ing of the personal element in the consciousness. 

We must not conclude, therefrom, that the impersonal 
consciousness is incapable of intelligent operation. No 
such thing ; and events prove that the impersonal or 
subliminal consciousness is capable of accomplishing, 
with great perfection, the most complicated intellectual 
acts, without the personal consciousness being aware of it. 
In these cases, when the result of the operation is trans- 
mitted to the personal consciousness, this latter perceives 
it under the symbolical or dramatical form I pointed out. 

Observation shows, that all the features I have just 
described as being met with in cases where participation 
of the personal consciousness with our mental or physical 
activity is diminished, are to be found in hallucination 
and in dreams.^ 

I beg to be excused for this digression ; it was in- 
dispensable in order to develop, in a comprehensive 
manner, the analogies which are presented between 
dreams and hallucinations provoked by crystal-gazing, 
and the transcendental character which these visions can 
present, without being, however, supernatural. These 
considerations set forth, I arrive at the recital of some 
facts I have observed. 

The way in which imagination-images or hallucina- 

1 Readers, interested to know my ideas on this point, will find them more 
extensively developed in my book, U Amnesie et les troubles de la conscience 
dans Vepilepsie. 



tions are induced, with most of the sensitives I have 
examined, is nearly always the same. I will describe it, 
pointing out at the same time that the formation of the 
hallucinatory image is the same in nearly every case, be 
the visual impression imaginary, or be it the expression 
of a true fact, past, present, or future, 

I have shown how to hold the crystal, and how to 
look at it. The sensitive, having fixed his eyes on the 
crystal for a few seconds or minutes — the time varies 
according to individuals — sees an opalescent, milky tint 
come over the crystal. I know a sensitive, — an intelli- 
gent and well-educated lady — who compares this im- 
pression, to that produced on the eye by rising mists and 
fleeting clouds. For her, the milky tint in the crystal is 
in movement. It breaks away like a cloud or mist, to 
disclose the hallucinatory image completely formed. To 
another sensitive, the cloud appears first of all immobile, 
and then becomes condensed into grey forms, which 
gradually become coloured and mobile. This sensitive 
enters so completely into the hallucination, that, as a 
rule, he thinks he is transported to the landscape he is 
gazing at ; he has not only a hallucination of sight, but 
a hallucination of all the senses. Most people see 
the image in the crystal, but believe they see it life-size. 
The dimension of the crystal has no influence on the 
apparent dimension of the image ; — at least, this is what 
I have nearly always remarked. 

What I say of the mode of induction of the image in 
the crystal can be applied to any other mode of induc- 
tion — mirror, glass of water, decanter, etc. 

The cause of the vision is sometimes an association of 
ideas or images, which is easy to trace. Here is an 


example : I was once in a spiritistic group, and among 
those present were several sensitives presenting sub- 
conscious or paraconscious automatisms, with the features 
of ordinary somnambulism. I begged one young girl, of 
about fifteen or sixteen years old, to look into a white 
crystal ball of four centimetres in diameter. Almost 
without transition she saw goldfish in the ball. Every 
one knows the spherical bowls in which goldfish are 
put ; as it happened, there was a bowl of this kind in the 
room. The idea of a transparent bowl was naturally 
associated with that of goldfish ; this subconscious 
association provoked the visual image of the fish. Facts 
of this kind are the simplest ; their psychological 
mechanism is easy to penetrate ; the associations of 
images are almost logical, and their dreamlike character 
is scarcely marked. In the above case, the impossibility 
of placing the fish in a crystal ball is not perceived by 
the consciousness, which suffers the succession of images 
empirically associated ; the globe of water containing the 
fish resembled in its form and aspect the transparent 
glass ball ; therefore, the latter evoked the image of the 
former, and the fish which it contained. This associa- 
tion is very intelligible. 

Here is another example borrowed from experiments 
I made with a remarkable sensitive — the one with whom 
the hallucination becomes generalised. This person, 
looking in the crystal, perceived a railway-station, and 
saw portmanteaux in the luggage-room. He then 
plunged right into the dream, and imagined he was 
going to take away his own portmanteau ; he entered 
the luggage-room, took his trunk and opened it. It 
contained a particularly horrible dead body, which leaped 


out of the portmanteau, and bitterly complained of 
being disturbed. It threw itself upon the sensitive, who 
immediately fled, pursued by the dead body. After a 
desperate chase, the sensitive darted into a road which 
crossed a park. This park, in reality, is situated at more 
than six hundred miles from the railway-station, where 
he believed he saw the portmanteaux : this distance had 
disappeared in the vision. The dead body took a cor- 
responding road ; the two roads met on a hill, where 
the persecutor made a dead set at the sensitive ; the 
latter fell, and the dead body stopped and bent down to 
strike him. The visionary gave him a kick in the 
stomach, and stretched him full length on the ground. 
The hallucination then ceased abruptly, and the sensitive 
found himself back in his room, in front of the crystal. 
The vision was so intense, that he was still upset with 
fright, and breathless from running. 

This hallucination is of a dreamlike character, and 
reminds one of certain kinds of delirium. I have often 
questioned the sensitive carefully, in order to try to 
reconstitute the psychological elements of his hallucina- 
tions, and for this particular hallucination, as I have 
related it, I will indicate the result of my inquiry : — 

1. The sensitive has often seen dead bodies. He is 
not afraid of them ; he feels no repugnance even when 
touching them. 

2. He has travelled a great deal, but has no souvenir 
of any connection whatever between his portmanteau 
and dead bodies, except the associations which stories of 
the nature of the Gouffe affair may evoke. ^ 

1 A lawyer who was murdered, and whose dead body, much hacked about, 
was found in a trunk in the luggage-room of a railway-station in France. 


3. The chase occurred at a spot known to the sensi- 
tive, who had, as It happened, gone, one day, to that 
very spot on a walking expedition with one of his 
friends, under some conditions recalling those of the 
hallucination, notably the choice of different roads ; the 
two roads corresponded and met as in the vision. 

4. He did not fall, and has no conscious souvenir, 
which can explain his struggle with the dead body. 

This curious hallucination shows us an admixture of 
true images and fantastic Images, these latter, however, 
composed of real elements. The duration of this halluci- 
nation, so full of events, was very short. This is another 
feature observed in dreams. We see here the trace of 
queer associations, some explicable, others not so. The 
idea of a railway-station awakens that of portmanteaux ; 
that of the dead body is already abnormal, but com- 
prehensible, the sensitive being sufficiently acquainted 
with contemporary criminal literature to know of the 
Gouffe affair. The leap of the dead body out of the 
valise, the flight of the sensitive, and the pursuit of the 
dead body after him, are abnormal associations. The 
first Is difficult to explain ; the flight and pursuit are 
more easily explained. The first of these ideas naturally 
suggests the second. The idea of pursuit awakens the 
idea of running ; this, in its turn, awakens the Idea of 
the place where the sensitive has really run a race ; and, 
notwithstanding its illogism, that association Is accepted, 
though the railway-station, where the scene begins, be 
more than six hundred miles from the park where the 
chase takes place. 

All these associations bear the characteristic stamp of 


B. Visions of past and forgotten facts present a 
different appearance. The following is an example : — The 
sensitive, in the course of conversation, was asked to sing 
one of Delmet's songs. He could not remember two 
lines of one of the verses, and was obliged to pass them 
over. I had the curiosity to improvise an experiment, 
and I begged the sensitive to look into a crystal. The 
forgotten lines were read by him in the crystal. Facts 
of this nature — and they are very numerous in technical 
literature — can be explained by the action of the im- 
personal or subliminal consciousness. The souvenir 
forgotten by the personal consciousness exists in the 
general consciousness, which has need of scenic effects 
in order to transmit its message to the personal con- 
sciousness ; hence we have sensorial, automatic, visual 
activity, and the reading of the forgotten words, which 
appear printed in the crystal. I will not dwell upon 
facts of this kind ; they are so well known. 

C The third category of visions comprises the 
perception of past events, which the medium affirms 
never to have known. It is evident that these facts 
can, in the greater number of cases, come under the 
preceding category, and be but forgotten souvenirs. 
But I have reason to think it is not always so, and that 
a certain number of cases exists, in which knowledge of 
the past appears to be acquired in a supernormal manner. 
This is only an impression, which I draw from the reality 
of certain premonitory facts observed by me. 

As an example of the facts I am describing at present, 
I will cite the following : — 

A sensitive one day looked into the crystal ; he 
suddenly saw the words 'Salon de 1885,' and a series 


of pictures, announced by their titles, passed before his 
eyes. The pictures, thus seen by him, had really been 
exhibited in the salon of 1885. In 1885 the sensitive 
was too young, to have had any personal knowledge of 
the salon of that year ; but nothing is easier than to 
read descriptions of past salons, or to procure repro- 
ductions of the pictures exhibited there. The sensitive, 
whose good faith is above suspicion, affirms having no 
conscious souvenir of a like reading. He believes he 
has never seen or read anything concerning the salon of 
1885, but he confines himself to affirming the non- 
existence of a conscious souvenir. It is, nevertheless, 
possible, as he acknowledges, that he may have glanced 
over a former catalogue or criticism without remember- 

Facts of this kind are never convincing, for it is 
very difficult to know exactly, if the sensitive has ever 
had knowledge of the fact, which emerges in the vision. 
I cite the above case, as an example only, without pro- 
nouncing an opinion on its signification. 

D. I have had no occasion of observing induced 
hallucinations representing a scene actually happening ; 
at least, I have never been able to verify any in a 
satisfactory manner. 

E. The cases of premonition I have obtained are, 
on the contrary, relatively numerous. I have, personally, 
observed some of them, and have obtained first-hand ac- 
counts of others. Here are my most interesting cases : — 

I had given a crystal to Monsieur X., a friend of 
mine, who is much interested in psychical researches. 
Madame X. has the faculty of seeing in the crystal, but 
I have never had the opportunity of interrogating her 


upon her visions. The fact, which her husband related 
to me, concerns a woman who is cashier in a large 
restaurant at Bordeaux. Monsieur X., who sometimes 
lunches at this restaurant, one day showed the crystal 
to the cashier ; the latter looked into it and saw therein 
a small dog. She did not recognise the dog, and the 
vision appeared to have no interest. 

Shortly afterwards, Monsieur X. was again lunching 
in the same restaurant. The cashier called him up to 
her, and told him she was much astonished, because she 
had just received the present of a small dog, exactly like 
the one she had seen in the crystal. 

Another lady sometimes sees visions in a mirror ; 
these visions are formed on the glass of a wardrobe, 
which is placed facing a window, thus partly satisfying 
the conditions indicated further back. The recital, which 
was given me of these visions by her friends, was 
confirmed by the lady herself. 

She saw a man seated on the footpath of a certain 
street, the man was wounded, in a particular manner, 
on the forehead ; a piece of skin was torn away and lay 
over the eye. Among other details about his costume 
was a sack, which the man had rolled round his neck ; 
on the sack the letters V. L. were printed. The lady, 
in her vision, saw herself speak to the wounded man, 
take him to the hospital and have his wound dressed. 

She went out on the morning of the next day, met 
the wounded man at the spot she had seen him the day 
before, and her vision came true to the letter, even to 
the detail of the sack around the neck, and the letters 
which were printed upon it. 

Another time this lady perceived, always under the 


same conditions, that is in the glass of the wardrobe, one 
of her friends, who is married to a government officer 
abroad, where he is consul of a sister-power. This 
lady, in the vision, appeared to be walking up the street 
Tourny at Bordeaux, just where it opens out into the 
square Gambetta. The details of the costume were 
noted by the observer : — a light cloak, and a blouse made 
of Scotch plaid with gold trimming about the neck. 
Two or three days afterwards, the percipient happened 
to be in a tram. As the tram arrived at the junction 
of the street Tourny and the square Gambetta, she 
perceived her friend, exactly as the vision had repre- 
sented her. 

Here is another and last example, still more significa- 
tive than the preceding, for the vision was related to 
me eight days before the event took place, and I myself 
had related it to several persons before its realisation. 
A sensitive perceived in a crystal the following scene : — 
A large steamer, flying a flag of three horizontal bands, 
black, white, and red, and bearing the name Leutschlandy 
navigating in mid-ocean ; the boat was surrounded 
by smoke ; a great number of sailors, passengers and 
men in uniform rushed to the upper-deck, and the 
sensitive saw the vessel founder. 

Eight days afterwards, the newspapers announced the 
accident to the Deutschland^ whose boiler had burst, 
obliging the boat to stand to. This vision is very 
curious, and as the details were given me before the 
accident, I will analyse it with care. 

In the first place, one thing strikes us : — The pre- 
monition was not exactly fulfilled. The Deutschland 
met with an accident, it is true ; from the nature of 


that accident, it must have been surrounded with 
vapour ; the crew and passengers would probably have 
rushed to the upper-deck ; but happily, this magnificent 
vessel did not founder. On the other hand, the sensitive 
read L instead of D ; but this detail is of no importance, 
the foreign word being probably badly deciphered. 
Lastly, one thing worthy of noting is the complete 
absence of personal interest in this vision, for the 
sensitive has no connection whatever with Germany, 
and was ignorant, at least consciously, of the existence 
of this boat, though he might certainly have seen 
illustrations of it. Evidently, we must not attach too 
much importance to this premonition, but the same 
sensitive has given me many other curious examples of 
the same kind ; and these cases, compared with others 
I myself have observed, or with those of which I have 
received first-hand accounts, render the hypothesis of 
coincidence very improbable, but do not exclude it in 
an absolute manner. Such as they are, I think these 
facts are sufficiently interesting, for systematic observation 
of the visual phenomena I point out to be undertaken 
by competent persons, with true sensitives, and not 
with hysterical subjects^ who seldom, if ever, give good 

The facts of premonition which I have observed or 
controlled, and of which I have just given a few 
examples, cannot, I think, be reasonably regarded as 
coincidences. I have already said that this hypothesis, 
without being inadmissible, is insufficient. Think of 
the immense proportion of probabilities, which accumu- 
late in favour of the reality of a fact, as soon as the 
details themselves accumulate. The visions relative 


to the foreign friend, and to the wounded man, are 
instructive from this point of view, given the great 
number of circumstances seen beforehand : — exact locality, 
exact details of the wound, the costume, etc. It is a 
pity these facts were not observed under good conditions. 
That of the Deutschland is much less demonstrative, 
because of the inaccuracy in the foreseen issue. 

If we compare these facts with those which have been 
already registered by the Society for Psychical Research, 
we will come to a conclusion, which confirms the simple 
impression that my own observations have given birth 
to in my mind. What is the cause of these pre- 
monitions .'' What signification have they with respect 
to the reality of time '^. Why do these visions come to 
people, who often have no interest whatever in knowing 
of them } These are all so many questions I am putting, 
without being able to indicate their solution. We must 
observe, with the greatest care, the facts which are 
presented, accumulate them in as great a number as 
possible, and, before considering their causes, be, first 
of all, doubly sure of their reality. 

I have indicated, further back, the analogy of the 
greater part of these visions with dreams. 1 will point 
out finally another resemblance which is, perhaps, not 
the least interesting. This is, that these visions are 
often quickly forgotten. We must make the sensitives 
we observe write down their visions immediately ; for, 
in the greater number of cases, a rapid amnesia mixes up 
the details and causes them to disappear. These visions, 
therefore, react upon the memory in the manner of dreams. 

F. Certain visions are of a doubtful character. Here 
are some examples : — Several times a sensitive sees, in the 


crystal, a long procession of personages clothed in white 
enter a sort of crypt, which looks like the entrance 
to a tunnel. The vision presents no incoherence, but 
appears to have no signification, either as a souvenir 
evoked unconsciously or as a subconscious symbolical 
image admitting of interpretation. 

And now, I am going to relate a vision, which, doubt- 
less, will particularly interest occultists. I was operat- 
ing with a sensitive, who was ignorant, I think, of their 
theories and those of spiritists ; who had no notion what- 
ever about larvas, and the forms given to such in the 
literature of occult sciences. Now the sensitive, of 
whom I speak, twice saw the vision of a tree standing out 
detached from the others in a forest. The earth appeared 
white, the tree itself was white, and appeared to be covered 
with white pears hanging from its branches. In his vision 
the sensitive drew near, and perceived that the pears were 
in reality white beasts of hideous appearance ; they were 
like heads without bodies, terminating in long tails. 
These beings were suspended to the branches by their 
tails. This vision seems to me to be purely imaginary, 
but I have related it because the curious forms described 
concord, I believe, with the aspect given to larvae by 
occult writers. I cannot positively affirm the sensitive's 
absolute ignorance of mystic literature, but I have serious 
reasons to admit it. Must we simply see herein a morpho- 
logical association between the different forms of larvae, of 
tears embroidered on funereal garb and pears ! This 
explanation would be possible, if the sensitive knew the 
signification of the word larvae, and the form lent to 
these fabulous beinofs. 

I must now cut short the recital of these observations. 


and confine myself to resuming the conclusion to which 
I have come : — This is, that sensorial automatisms and 
especially visual hallucinations have the same characteristic 
features we note in dreams, the same weakening of the 
power of control of the will and judgment over the selec- 
tion of images, over their coherence, their likelihood, 
and the same rapid amnesia. These are characteristic 
features, which we observe in every case, where the senti- 
ment of personality is impaired. This is just as noticeable 
in purely imaginary hallucinations, as in hallucinations 
which appear to have a real foundation. This fact seems 
to me of great importance, for it permits us to think, that 
one of the conditions of the transcendental perception of 
facts past, present or even future is the disappearance of 
the voluntary and personal activity of the consciousness. 
Less fit to act actively, it would be more inclined to be 
passively impressed by influences, which are at present 
indeterminable ; the transmission to the normal conscious- 
ness of the impressions perceived by the impersonal 
consciousness appears to take place in the same way as in 
a dream, that is to say by dramatisation, — by a scene which 
expresses the idea in a concrete and symbolical manner. 

There is therefore a rapprochement between these sen- 
sory automatisms and dreams and telepathy. Several 
premonitory dreams have been related to me by people of 
absolute good faith ; I will give two, which were told me 
by magistrates. The first concerns a man holding a high 
rank in the magistracy. He had sold, at an advantageous 
price, the wood on a property he possessed in the neigh- 
bouring country, but the bargain was not definitely settled, 
and was to be concluded in an interview arranged for 
between the owner and the purchaser. On the eve of the 


day when the magistrate should have gone to the country, 
his wife dreamt that she was present at the woodman's 
visit. In her dream, the latter offered a price, which was 
inferior to the price originally agreed upon, and covered 
his treachery with all sorts of periphrases, trying to prove 
that the bargain remained excellent for the owner. 
Finally he turned towards Madame X., who was present 
at the interview, and said to her, ' This is fair speaking, 
is it not, Madame ? ' Madame X. related the dream to 
her husband, telling him also that she thought the bargain 
would not come off. Her dream was fulfilled literally, 
and the phrase heard in her dream was uttered by the 
woodman. I received this account from the magistrate 
himself, an eminent man and one of the most brilliant 
intellects I have known. 

The second dream is, perhaps, still more curious ; it 
was told me by one of my colleagues, a calm, positive 
man with not the slightest tendency whatever to mys- 
ticism, employing his leisure hours in hunting rather 
than with metaphysics. He is, moreover, an experi- 
enced magistrate, and occupies a distinguished posi- 
tion at a court in the centre of France. At the time 
he had the dream I am going to relate, he was juge 
d' instruction in a small town, where there are some impor- 
tant factories. He was closely connected with a large 
manufacturer, and was accustomed to go and see him 
nearly every day. He knew the staff of the factory, and 
notably an overseer, a native of Flanders ; this man, after 
many years of faithful service, wished to return to his 
birthplace and left his employer, remaining, however, on 
the best of terms with him. 

Some months afterwards my colleague dreamt, he had 


taken his usual promenade and paid his visit to his friend. 
In his dream, he saw the overseer and manifested his 
surprise at seeing him ; the overseer replied, ' Yes, sir, it 
is I, I could not find any work in my own country, 
and i' faith, I came back here.' My colleague attached 
no importance to this dream ; on the morrow he went, 
as usual, to see his friend, and in the factory found the 
overseer whom he had seen in his dream. He exchanged 
the same conversation he had held with him in his dream. 

Facts of this kind are very numerous. Perhaps they 
are only simple coincidences, but, as with sensory auto- 
matisms already described, I cannot help thinking, that 
coincidence does not explain everything. The concording 
details are often so numerous, that the probabilities in 
an extremely large proportion are against pure hazard. 
Richet, however, has carefully studied the Calculus of 
Probabilities, and I will not go into the question. I 
simply give my impression, persuaded as I am that those 
who study these facts impartially will come to the conclu- 
sion, that hazard does not explain everything. 

The two dreams which I have taken as examples offer 
us cases of telepathy, that is to say, the impression 
perceived in a way which the ordinary senses do not 
explain. Telepathy has been carefully studied by Myers, 
Gurney, Podmore, Sidgwick, Ermacora, and discussion 
on this question can only be pursued, if the work of 
these savants has been studied. Telepathy appears to me 
to be established in a definitive manner, but I have no 
personal example to cite. However, a very great number 
of cases have been related to me, by persons who have 
received telepathic impressions. I know of many people 
who have had veridical hallucinations, either during sleep 


or when awake. The following are some examples 
borrowed from my circle of friends or relations : — 

One of my great-uncles had married a coloured woman 
at Martinique. This lady, though highly respectable, was 
the victim of tenacious prejudice on the part of the white 
Creole families on the island, and my uncle's marriage 
aroused the displeasure of his family. He left Saint- 
Pierre, and came to Bordeaux. His wife's mind suddenly 
gave way ; she had dangerous attacks of fury, but the 
union between my great-uncle and his wife was so close, 
and their reciprocal affection so profound, that my relation 
would not consent to a separation and have her cared for 
in an asylum. He fell a victim to his devotion ; his wife 
killed him in an attack of high fever. One of my great- 
aunts, the dead man's sister, living at Paris, was awakened 
in the middle of the night by her brother's voice calling 
her. This hallucination coincided with the death of my 

An intimate friend of my mother's, a Creole living at 
Bordeaux, had been present at the embarkation of a 
family belonging to Martinique, that was returning to 
Saint-Pierre. Some time afterwards she had a dream in 
which she saw a steamer founder ; the stern of the vessel 
rose above the waves, and she was able to read the name 
of the boat ; it was the one on which her friends had em- 
barked. The vessel was lost and not a life saved. 

Here is another interesting fact, in which (i) a 
sentiment of anxiety, the cause unknown to the conscious 
personality, corresponds with the serious illness of a near 
relation ; (2) the telepathic, premonitory hallucination of 
a telephonic call preceded the real call by two hours. 
This fact was communicated to me by one of my friends. 


' Here is the exact account of the fact I mentioned to 

' On the evening of the 17th October 1901 I went to 
bed feeling greatly disturbed ; I could not define the 
cause of my mental anguish, for I was in perfect health. 
This trouble persisted, and my sleep was haunted by 
painful nightmare. 

' At half-past four I suddenly awoke, having distinctly 
heard the sound of my telephone bell. I ran to the 
apparatus, and answered the ring. The night operator 
replied that he had not rung me up, and that nothing 
unusual was happening. I had therefore been labouring 
under a hallucination, provoked by a particular haunting 

' At seven o'clock in the morning, the telephone again 
sounded, and I was put into communication with my 
brother-in-law residing at Biarritz. He told me that 
my sister, Madame V,, had, in the night, been struck 
with congestion of the brain, and was in a critical 

All these facts may be considered as coincidences ; 
their attentive study, their thorough analysis, and their 
careful, thoughtful comparison can alone make us 
suspect, that hazard has nothing whatever to do with 
their production. 

I may compare these cases of telepathy to facts of 
exteriorisation of sensibility, and of vision at a distance. 
I have given very little study to these facts, for 
they do not enter into the habitual plan of my re- 
searches ; I have sometimes observed them, but under 
conditions which do not satisfy me. My observations, 
however incomplete they may be, tend, nevertheless, 



to make me think, that the phenomenon described by 
de Rochas, under the name oi exteriorisation de la sensibilite^ 
is real. I have met with two sensitives, who presented 
the phenomenon in a fairly clear manner in a waking 
state. I was led to make the following experiment with 
one of these sensitives. As soon as she entered the 
seance-room and had taken off her cloak, I took hold 
of the garment and pinched the lining. The sensitive 
mentioned feeling a certain sensation, rather feeble how- 
ever, in the part of her body which had been covered 
by the garment in the place I had pinched it. The 
first time I tried this experiment, the sensitive had not 
been warned, and was surprised at the sensation she 
felt. Needless to say, I took precautions to make sure, 
this lady did not see what I was doing. I have ob- 
served, that this particular sensibility disappears very 
rapidly ; at the end of forty or fifty seconds it has 
ceased to exist. 

I have asked a lady friend of this sensitive's to try 
the same experiment with her more private garments, 
especially with the corsets. Sensibility should then be 

I think that the observation of this fact, which I 
point out with much reserve, not having submitted it 
to serious study, is easier than is supposed, by employ- 
ing the method I indicate, that is to say, by pinching 
or pricking garments which the sensitive has just 
thrown off. 

I have had occasion also of verifying this phenomenon, 
under the technical conditions indicated by Colonel de 
Rochas. Very few sensitives present it in a marked 
manner, and it has seemed to me necessary to push 


the artificial sleep rather deeply. This expression may 
seem somewhat antiquated, to those who have frequented 
our learned neurological cliniques ; but I cannot help 
thinking, that a real difference exists between the different 
phases of somnambulism, if they be observed. I speak, of 
a difference of degree. It seems to me that, once the 
subject is put to sleep, the repeated action of the passes 
determines a particular state, pointed out by ancient 
magnetisers and exposed in detail by de Rochas, in 
which the subject appears to lose the notion of his 
personality, and be in close dependence upon his 
' magnetiser.' I have experimented very little in this 
order of research, and I can permit myself only to give 
indications ; I am unable to affirm a personal conviction. 
The few experiments I have made, however, tend 
to make me think that de Rochas is quite right in 
speaking of superficial and profound states. I am not 
convinced that the passage from the one to the other 
takes place with the regularity that my eminent friend 
has observed, but the fact pointed out by him is, I 
think, true in a general way. I am going to support 
my opinion with an example. 

I have already spoken of Madame Agullana. Those 
who have only been present at her ordinary seances can 
have no idea of the curious faculties, she sometimes 
presents. An experienced manipulator can obtain with 
her-^on condition of operating quietly and in the pre- 
sence of very few people — phenomena which are very 
interesting, in the sphere of what is called animal magnet- 
ism. I was at her home one evening with Monsieur B. 
"We were expecting a tutor, a medium of whom I had 
heard marvellous things. This tutor did not turn up ; but, 


while waiting for him, I put Madame Agullana to sleep ; 
I wished to show Monsieur B., who had no experience of 
this kind, the effects of profound sleep. I prolonged 
my passes, made longitudinally from the forehead to the 
epigastrium, for more than twenty-five minutes. From 
time to time, every seven or eight minutes, I asked 
Madame Agullana what was her name. She told me her 
name. At last the moment came when she could not 
remember her name, and appeared to have lost conscious- 
ness of her personality. I made a few more passes, and 
remarked to Monsieur B. that, when Madame A. appeared 
to have cutaneous anaesthesia, she seemed to perceive 
pricks at a distance of two or three centimetres from the 
skin. The passes were continued for about another 
quarter of an hour; at that moment Madame A. appeared 
to present two peculiarities : — 

1. Her sensitiveness appeared to be localised behind 
her, at about three feet from, and twenty-one inches 
above the level of her head. She winced, when — care 
being taken that she did not see — the air was pinched 
at the spot indicated. 

2. Only the persons en rapport with her — in the sense 
given to this word by de Rochas — could make an im- 
pression upon her ; contacts and pinching by other people 
were not perceived by her, I did not observe these two 
peculiarities under conditions sufficiently precise to warrant 
me affirming, that my observation was good ; but I indi- 
cate them, for to me they appeared probable. 

Then, phenomena were forthcoming. Madame Agul- 
lana said she was in the street, outside of the house. I 
asked her to go and see what one of my friends. Monsieur 
Bechade, was doing— -a man whom she knew well. It was 


twenty minutes past ten o'clock. To our great surprise, 
she told us that she saw ' Monsieur Bechade half-undressed, 
walking bare-footed on stones.' This did not seem to us 
to have any sense. I saw my friend the next day, and, 
although he is well acquainted with spiritistic phenomena, 
he seemed to be astonished at my recital, and said to me, 
word for word : ' I was not feeling very well yesterday 
evening ; one of my friends who lives with me advised me 
to try Kneipp's method, and urged me so strongly, that, 
in order to satisfy him, I tried last night for the first time 
to walk barefooted on cold stone. I was, in reality, half- 
undressed when I made the first attempt ; it was then 
twenty minutes past ten o'clock ; I walked about for 
some time on the first steps of the staircase, which is 
built of stone.' 

Perhaps this also is a coincidence, but this fact, which 
was witnessed by several people, presents very strange 
coincidences all the same. The hour, the costume, the 
unusual operation, are circumstances of too special a 
nature for mere hazard to suffice to explain them, it seems 
to me. I cite this case because it came under my personal 
observation, and because it shows a variety of telepathic 
phenomena ; it is what the ancient magnetisers called 
lucidity, clairvoyance or, more exactly, vision at a 
distance. It appears to me to be a development of the 
facts pointed out by de Rochas ; it looks as though the 
entire sensibility was exteriorised to variable distances. 
This is telaesthesia, a phenomenon in the sensitivo- 
sensorial domain, analogous to motor telekinesis. 

Experimenters, who might be desirous of verifying 
these facts, should not forget, (i) it is necessary to have 
a sensitive who has often been magnetised — I do not say 


hypnotised ; (2) sleep must be pushed very deeply — passes 
must be continued for more than half an hour after 
somnambulism sets in. The time is reduced with 
sensitives who are well developed. 

It would be easy to multiply examples of this kind, 
particularly those of well-observed telepathic cases. The 
publications of the London Society for Psychical Research, 
Flammarion's book, VInconnu et les problemes psychiques^ 
the Annales des Sciences psychiques, contain a great number 
of them. This symbolism will always be met with, — 
this dramatic element, which I have indicated as the 
ordinary way by which the general consciousness trans- 
mits its information to the personal consciousness. The 
assimilation which I make between sensory automatisms 
and dreams, crystal vision and telepathy, appears to me 
to find support in these facts. These phenomena are of 
the same order and, in all probability, have their seat in 
the same strata of the consciousness. 

I will not try to fathom the cause ; once again 1 must 
repeat what I have so often said already, — the question is 
still so little known, that we are not able to enter profit- 
ably upon the study of the apparent cause of the psychical 
facts examined in this present chapter. We must multiply 
observations and verify the undeniable existence of the 
facts, before attempting to interpret them. 

I give here, both as an example of careful observation 
and as an illustration of the chief features of the pheno- 
mena of which I have just been speaking, the following 
account which Professor Charles Richet has kindly 
sent me. 




April, 1903. 

' Dear Dr. Maxwell, — The following is a brief account 
of the strange, bewildering facts, of which I promised 
you the narration. 

'I. In the beginning of October 1900 I was at 
Carqueiranne, when I received a letter from Madame X. 
Madame X. had left Paris on the ist of October for 
Fontainebleau, with the intention of spending a month 
near the forest. In her letter to me she related, that on 
the arrival of the train at the station of Melun, she had a 
notion that some one entered her carriage and sat down 
opposite to her. This " vision " spoke to her, saying he 
had known me very well, that he used to call me " Carlos," 
and that I called him " Tony " ; he told her, that he 
knew Fontainebleau very well and would accompany her 
in her walks in the forest. 

* After that letter I received others from Madame X., 
giving me numerous details concerning this vision which 
called itself " Tony," a vision which was repeated several 
times during Madame X.'s visit at Fontainebleau. These 
details were particularly remarkable and abundant between 
the 20th and the 28 th October. I will briefly enumerate 
them, after which I will enter upon a discussion and 
appreciation of the chief details. 

' " Tony " showed me a tree to-day on which were 
engraved the letters A. B. and a date 1880, or 1883 — 
the last figure was indistinct ; underneath the letters 
A. B. was the name " Lucie." ..." Tony " seems to 
have had to do with machinery of some kind. He had 
hoped to construct a machine, which would have been of 


great use to mankind. He seems to say it was he who dis- 
covered the telephone, — or, at least, that he was on the 
right track, ... I hear him say, " I know Madeleine 
well." He says he adored his father. He speaks about 
Leon, Sarah, and Marguerite, but especially about Lucie. 
His wife's name was Lucie. , . . There were Jews in his 
family ; he also talks about Louise, . , . He worked 
with telegraphy and electric wires. . . . He knew you 
remarkably well ; he called you " Carlos," and you called 
him " Tony " ; of this I am sure, for he speaks of it so 
often. He says he collaborated with you in some work. 
He says that when he was dead, you went into his 
death-chamber and kissed him on the forehead, , . . 
He had not been previously ill, — a feeling of suffocation 
in the chest and that was all. [^uelque chose fa etouffe a la 
poitrine^ et ce fut tout.'] He was only 30 or 32 years 
old when he died. ... I do not think he was married, 
that is to say, in the legal sense of the word ; but he 
was very much attached to Lucie, by whom he had a 
daughter, who was about three years old when he died. 
This child seems to be still alive, but very few people 
know about it. He adored Lucie, who seems to have 
been very charming, for Antoine shows me her portrait, 
— a medallion or locket which he used to wear — in which 
she seems to have beautiful dark eyes and hair. He 
lived for about four or five years with Lucie ; but Lucie 
had previously been married to a Jew \_un grosjuif~\, whom 
she did not care for. I think Antoine lived a long time 
with Lucie at Fontainebleau ; they were sadly happy 
there [tristement heureux]. The house they stayed at 
is no longer inhabited. It was a red and white cottage, 
quite close to the forest, which was just behind it. . . . The 


house stood alone ; a tramway passes by there to-day. 
..." Tony " also speaks about his father. His father 
loved his own fireside ; he once lost a lot of money when 
Antoine was grown up ; but Antoine did not take much 
notice of this, for he did not trouble himself about money 
matters. The house in which " Tony " and his father 
lived together, is one which they seem to have always 
inhabited. " Tony " seems to have always known this 
house. The furniture is old ; the rooms look as though 
they had been occupied for a very long time. He speaks 
of the Faubourg Montmartre ; does that mean he used 
to live there ? . . . Antoine also had to do with engines 
of war. I think he was wounded during the war [the 
Commune], because I hear the noise of cannon — and 
your father dressed his wound. ... 

' Antoine was a free-mason. He admired Claude 
Bernard. His political opinions were of a socialistic 
tendency. He did not care for the society of women. 
He was temperate, and did not drink wine ; he was no 
epicure. . . . He has been to Geneva. . . . He has 
hunted with you. . . . He used to like reading Tiius Livy. 
. . . He cared naught for the world's opinion, taking his 
conscience for his sole guide. . . . He often saw Philippe. 
He also mentions Yvonne, Josephine, Georges, James, 
Clotilde, and Andre. . . . He speaks about a pseudonym ; 
he has written some things under a nom-de-plume. . . . 
Antoine had beautiful dark eyes, large and most expres- 
sive, full of resolution, but, at the same time, soft, 
dreamy-looking eyes. He had a frank, hearty laugh, 
and this merry sound was often heard [// riait sou-vent de 
ce bon rire\. He had a habit of putting his hands behind 
his head, and stretching himself out on a sofa, laughing 


merrily. . . . He has very long, thin fingers, which seem 
to be clever at mechanical work ; indeed he seems to 
have been clever at everything, and to do all things well. 
... A short time before he died — a Wednesday, — you 
and he were at a banquet together, and drank each 
other's health. " Tony " then told you, that he had not 
been feeling well, and that he was in great need of a 
holiday. . . . Antoine told me again to-day, that he 
loved Lucie dearly ; " and," he said, " I still watch over 
her, even now ; tell her no evil will ever befall her." 
\_Rien de mauvais ne lui arrivera.~\ 

* II. The preceding are the most important of the 
data concerning my friend Antoine B., given me in 
Madame X.'s letters during the month of October 1900. 
I repeat Madame X. was at Fontainebleau, and I at 
Carqueiranne. Therefore, I could not have given her 
any hints by my words, and I am particularly anxious 
to point out a fact, of which I am absolutely certain, 
which is, that I had never pronounced the name of my 
friend Antoine B, in the presence of Madame X. ; I am 
positive that no word of mine could have afforded the 
smallest clue to Madame X. of my acquaintance with 
Antoine B. 

' I may also add that, though to-day four years after 
these visions occurred, Madame X. has become one of 
my friends, at that moment, October 1900, our ac- 
quaintanceship dated from a few months only ; and, at 
Madame X.'s own request, in order to avoid hints and 
suggestions, I abstained from ever speaking with her on 
anything save vague, general topics. Madame X., at this 
time, lived a secluded, retired life in a convent, seldom 
going out and receiving no visitors. She was, moreover. 


almost an entire stranger to Paris, having arrived there 
only a short time before I made her acquaintance. If 
Madame X. spoke of any one of my deceased friends 
to-day, it would be impossible for me to affirm positively 
that I had never pronounced that name in her presence ; 
but, thanks to the great care I took at that moment to 
avoid all manner of confidences whatsoever, continually 
seconded in my efforts by Madame X. herself, I can 
certify that the name of Antoine B. had not been pro- 
nounced up to the month of October 1900. 

' Therefore my stupefaction was indeed great, when I 
discovered in Madame X.'s letters so many precise and 
correct data, though mixed up with occasional errors. 
And when I speak of precise and correct data, I do not 
mean data, traces of which may have been left in printed 
matter. I speak of private, unpublished facts, facts 
known only to me or to his wife. Notwithstanding 
this, however, I was blind to the truth. And I sought 
to explain away these phenomena of lucidity, by an 
apparently rational explanation. 

' Here is the fable I invented, for I think it may be 
useful to acquaint the reader with my hesitations, and the 
manner in which I tried to explain these facts. First of 
all, I supposed that Fontainebleau was a mistake, since, as 
far as I knew, Antoine B. did not go to Fontainebleau in 
1883. At the same time, I thought I remembered he had 
been a pupil at the School of Artillery at Fontainebleau 
in 1874. But, I asked myself, why should Madame X. 
speak about Antoine B., whose name I was and am 
certain never to have pronounced in her presence ? I 
found, or rather I thought I had found, the explanation. 
Tn the month of September 1900, Antoine B.'s daughter 


Madeleine, the wife of Jacques S., died, and one or two 
newspapers mentioned this sad and premature death. 
Now, I supposed that Madame X. had unconsciously 
glanced over one of these newspapers, that Antoine B.'s 
name had appeared therein with his biography more or 
less fully traced, our relations mentioned [he had been 
director with me of the Revue Scientifique^'] and reference 
made to his term at the School of Application at 
Fontainebleau, That was my fable. 

* It is true there were several other facts awaiting 
explanation; but I did not let them hinder me, — so 
dazed are we by the fear of meeting with the truth just 
where it really is, when we find ourselves in the presence 
of facts, with which force of habit has not yet rendered 
us familiar, 

' I will not dwell upon the absurdity of this manner of 
thinking ; I will simply repeat, that my first thought was 
that this vision of Antoine was simply the souvenir of 
some sub-conscious reading, with here and there a few 
gleams of lucidity, already very important in themselves, 
but not exceeding in precision or in importance other 
proofs of lucidity, of which Madame X. had already 
given me numerous and decisive examples. 

' Well ! I was altogether wrong ! It was a conversa- 
tion which I had with Antoine B.'s widow, [she was now 
Madame L., having married a second time] which 
showed me my mistake. 

' During the summer vacation in 1901, she was 
staying at my house at Carqueiranne, and one day I 
happened to speak about Madame X.'s visions concern- 
ing Antoine. As soon as I began, Madame B. became 
agitated ; the recital wrought upon her feelings consider- 


ably. When I had finished, she furnished me with the 
two following fundamental facts, facts which entirely- 
destroyed the point of view I had first of all adopted : 
I. " Antoine was never a pupil at the School of Applica- 
tion at Fontainebleau " ; 2. " In 1883 he and I were at 
Fontainebleau together." 

* Consequently the scaffblding I had erected in order 
to explain Madame X.'s visions entirely collapsed. 
The connection between Antoine and Fontainebleau — 
connection discovered by Madame X. — could not have 
been provoked by the souvenir of the reading of any 
newspaper, and the hypothesis — a very improbable one 
moreover — of a sub-conscious souvenir, of the uncon- 
scious reading of a hypothetical newspaper, had therefore 
no raison d'etre. So that the knowledge of a connection 
between Antoine and Fontainebleau could not have been 
due to any printed matter — since, naturally, no news- 
paper had mentioned this private detail in Antoine's life 
— or to any suggestion I might have given inadvertently 
— since I was ignorant of the fact. 

' Three other hypotheses remain : — that of chance, and 
this is so absurd, that it is useless even to mention it ; 
that of collusion between Madame X. and Madame 
B., a hypothesis which is as absurd as the preceding 
one, even if it were possible, for neither of these two 
ladies had or have ever seen one another ; lastly, there is 
the hypothesis of an extraordinary lucidity, on the nature 
of which I will not dwell, in order to avoid theorising, 
but which I must, perforce, be content with simply 
pointing out. 

' There is not the slightest trace left of Antoine B.'s 
visit to Fontainebleau in 1883, At Barbizon, where 


he stayed with his wife from the 15th May to 20th 
June 1883, he lived in a rustic inn, which has been 
demolished to make way for a tram-line. No writing, 
no letter, no souvenir of any kind whatever could have 
furnished a clue to this private detail in Antoine B.'s life. 

' III. I will now confront the reality, such as it was 
in June 1883, with what Madame X. wrote me in 
October 1900. 

' I. In order to go to Fontainebleau, or rather to 
Barbizon, M. and Mme. B. left the train at Melun. It 
is impossible to say, whether the initials of A. B. and 
the name of Lucie are engraved on a tree in the forest. 

' 2. "There is much resemblance between Antoine, as 
he was, and the physical portrait drawn of him by 
Madame X., especially the soft, caressing expression of 
the eyes. In politics he held advanced opinions for his 
time, and, had he lived, he would, in all probability, 
have been a socialist to-day ; at least his opinions would 
have been very favourable to socialistic doctrines. The 
sentence, Nous etions tristement heureux^ is character- 
istically true ; for at Barbizon, in spite of our long walks 
and our reveries in the forest, he was already very weak 
and in the grip of the illness which, soon afterwards, 
carried him ofF so rapidly." [The above was written 
and handed to me by Madame B. in October 1901.] 

* 3. Lucie is not Madame B.'s name. Her name is 
Marie. But Antoine often said to her, " What a pity 
you are not called Lucie ! " It was his favourite name. 

' 4. It is quite true that, alone among all my friends, 
Antoine called me " Carlos," and that I, on my side, 
called him " Tony." This is a fact known only to me. 
It is also perfectly correct — and I am not aware of 


having related this fact to any person whomsoever — that, 
when Antoine died, stricken to death in a few hours by 
a disease of the heart, I went into his death-chamber 
and kissed him on the brow. 

' 5. All the details relative to the construction of 
machines, electric wires, invention of the telephone, 
[before Gr. Bell's invention had been made known], 
collaboration with me in a scientific work, all these 
details are correct. 

' 6. The house in which he stayed at Fontainebleau 
stood by itself, with its back to the forest ; a tramway 
passes there to-day, the house having been pulled down 
to make room for it. 

'7. His daughter (who died in September 1900, at 
about the time when Madame X. says she first heard a 
voice call me " Carlos ") was called Madeleine. His 
sister's name was Louise. Louise married M. H. of 
Jewish origin. [There are Jews in his family. '\ 

' 8. He was thirty-two years old when he died, and 
his death was almost instantaneous. It would be im- 
possible to describe his death more correctly than 
Madame X. does in the words : ^lelque chose I'a etouffe 
a la poitrine^ et ce fut tout. In fact, towards eleven 
o'clock in the night he was seized by a thoracic oppres- 
sion, which made such rapid progress, that he expired at 
four o'clock in the early morning. 

' 9. He was not wounded during the Commune ; but 
once when, as a reserve artillery officer, he was assisting 
at gun-firing at Grenoble he lost the hearing of the left 
ear, an affliction which saddened him very much. Pro- 
bably I knew this, but, if so, I had completely forgotten 
it. It was Madame B,, who related this detail to me in 


October 1901, a detail absolutely unknown to every one, 
for Antoine never spoke of it. 

' 10. When Antoine was already grown up, shortly 
before his marriage, his father, Louis, suffered heavy 
losses of money through a defaulting cashier, Antoine 
did not take this to heart ; moreover, no one ever 
knew of the incident, which was carefully kept from 
the knowledge of every one outside of the family. 

'11. He wrote under a pseudonym. He wrote a few 
insignificant plays in 1876 or 1877 ; but it would be 
almost impossible to recover traces of them to-day. 

'12. The house where he was born, and where he 
lived up to the time of his marriage, is very old 
(situated on the Quai de H., and not in the Faubourg 
Montmartre) ; the furniture is ancient ; the house is 
quite unlike a modern one. 

*I3. The description of Lucie, his wife, is exact — "a- 
very charming woman with beautiful dark hair and eyes." 
Antoine had a portrait of her in a locket, which he used 
to wear on his person. 

'14. In a conversation I had with him a short time 
before his death, he spoke to me about the extreme 
fatigue which he felt, a kind of general lassitude, and of 
his great need of change and rest. 

' In all the above facts there is an admirable and most 
unlikely concordance between the reality and the indica- 
tions given by Madame X. 

' To be quite complete, I ought to mention the facts 
which I have not been able to verify, and those which 
seem inexact to me. 

' Among the facts I have been unable to verify, are 
the names of Yvonne, Josephine, Sarah, Marguerite, 
Georges, Clotilde. 


* The chief inexact details are the story of Lucie's true 
husband — a Jew (un gros juif) — and of the child Lucie 
and Antoine had, of whose existence hardly any one 
knew ; also the detail of having been wounded during 
the Commune and his wound having been dressed by my 
father. I ought also to add that Antoine and Marie B. 
were at Fontainebleau with their three children. How- 
ever, for reasons which I will develop further on, these 
errors have a great interest and merit an attentive 

' When considering these phenomena we must, first 
of all, rid ourselves of commonplace prejudices. The 
question is, not whether such or such a phenomenon does 
or does not concord with recognised ideas, but whether 
the phenomenon exists or does not exist — always suppos- 
ing, of course, that it be not in flagrant contradiction 
with established and verified truths. 

' Therefore every effort of demonstration must be con- 
centrated on this one point : Can we explain the above 
facts by any known process } For the sake of simplicity 
let us only take one of the facts, that of the presence — 
"or of the thought'''' — of Antoine B. at the Melun rail- 
way station. We have seen that I fell into error by 
endeavouring to explain this presence — or this thought 
— by a term at the School of Artillery at Fontainebleau ; 
and I do not see what other explanation can be attempted, 
since not the slightest trace is left of Antoine's visit to 
Fontainebleau with his wife twenty years ago. 

' Even if an expensive detective inquiry had been set 
on foot, it is highly doubtful if anything concerning 
Monsieur and Madame B.'s visit to Fontainebleau could 
have been found out. 


' Therefore, at the very outset, and without taking into 
account any of the other exact details in Madame X.'s 
visions, we encounter the material impossibility of estab- 
lishing any relations between Fontainebleau and Antoine. 

' But, just for one moment, let us make the concession 
that the names of Monsieur and Madame B, had been 
somewhere met with atBarbizon after an interval of twenty 
years ; this would immediately entail the knowledge of 
many other details ever so much easier to gather than 
were those very details given by Madame X., and not 
only easier but also more exact. Had this visit become 
known to Madame X. by any normal means, there 
would not have been the story of an illegal union, 
and of a residence of five years at Fontainebleau.^ So 
even the mistakes are a confirmation of the truth, one 
of the most interesting of confirmations ; for, honestly, 
we cannot suppose that, knowing the real facts, Madame 
X. would have taken it into her head to add facts, which 
she knew to be incorrect. 

' To put it in another way, even if we admit this 
absurdity of an extremely cleverly conducted detective 
inquiry making known to Madame X. the story of 
Antoine's life, she would not have distorted the results 
of such an inquiry by introducing errors therein. To 
take an example, when Antoine was at Fontainebleau 
with his wife and three children, she would have 
mentioned the other two children. She would also 
have said — and this was extremely easy to find out — 

1 Let us, however, point out that Antoine had been five years married when 
he died, and that he had been at Fontainebleau with his wife, consequently the 
error, which consists in saying five years of life together at Fontainebleau, con- 
stitutes only a relative error. 


that the B. estabHshment was situated on the Quai de 
H., and not in the F'aubourg Montmartre. 

' Therefore, every point carefully considered, I think 
it is absolutely certain that normal means of knowledge 
could not establish any connection between Antoine and 

' In the second place, unpublished details were furnished. 
I will pass over all the details — though they too be 
correct — which might be found in biographical or necro- 
logical articles ; I will simply draw attention to the 
following five extremely private details : — 

*i. The name of Lucie; and a locket containing 
her portrait which Antoine always wore on his 
' 2. The names of " Carlos " and " Tony." 
'3. A pseudonym. 
* 4. Money lost by his father. 
' 5. The circumstances of his death. 
' Now, not one of these details could have been found 
out by any inquiry, however clever, however well-planned 
and well carried out such an inquiry might have been. 

' I . Madame B. was the only living person who 
knew of Antoine's preference for the name of Lucie. 
She had never spoken of this to any one ; and it is 
a minute detail of which I was in complete ignorance, 
until Madame B. told me of it in 1901, after hearing 
about the visions Madame X. had related to me in her 
letters, a year before. 

' 2. I was the only person living who knew that Antoine 
called me " Carlos " ; and this is not a very commonplace 
statement, since no one, save Antoine, has ever called me 
" Carlos." 


' 3. No one ever suspected Antoine of having written 
under a nom de plume ; the few insignificant things 
he wrote for the stage are so entirely forgotten, that 
Madame B. herself remembered nothing about them in 
1901 ; and it is even highly probable that what he 
wrote could not be found again, the Bobino theatre, 
where he presented his plays, having disappeared years 


'4, The monetary losses which his father, Louis B., 
sustained a short while before Antoine's marriage, had 
been carefully kept from the knowledge of every one. 
These losses were occasioned by a dishonest cashier. 
The man was not prosecuted. Notwithstanding the 
importance of the sum involved, Antoine was rela- 
tively indifferent to the loss, as was distinctly indicated 
by Madame X. 

' 5. The circumstances of his death are described 
with striking reality. I kissed Antoine on the fore- 
head when he was dead. Some little time before 
the end, he spoke to me about his health, saying he 
felt in great need of rest. He did not look ill, 
however, and he died, after a few hours' illness only, 
from a cardiac affection : quelque chose Fa etouffe a la 

' There is still another item of interest, which I wish 
to touch upon : this is, the " message " from Antoine to 
his wife : rien de mauvais ne lui arrivera. These 
words were written by Madame X. in one of her letters 
to me, with the indication that Antoine had pronounced 
them on a certain day. Now, on that very day, 
Madame B. was delivered of a still-born child. She 
was, therefore, in a perilous condition at the very time 


Antoine said : " I watch over her, even now ; tell her, 
no evil will ever befall her." 

'We have, now, to draw our conclusion. The hypo- 
thesis of chance is absurd ; the hypothesis of fraud is 
absurd ; there remains but a third hypothesis, that of 
a phenomenon inexplicable by any of the existing data 
of our knowledge. It is for this inexplicable pheno- 
menon, that we are going to try and find an ex- 

' Two explanations at once present themselves : a, either 
this knowledge is entirely due to the intellectual faculties 
of Madame X. ; or ^, some other intelligence inter- 
venes, which manifests itself to Madame X. 

* a. This hypothesis is rather complicated, for it is not 
in the form of abstract knowledge that Madame X. learnt 
of all these real facts concerning Antoine, but in the 
form of Antoine himself. So that, if it really be only a 
question of abstract notions, these abstract notions have 
taken a concrete form in order to manifest themselves. 
They would thus have constituted a sort of error in 
themselves. It has been supposed that Antoine himself 
came into the railway carriage at Melun, that he 
accompanied Madame X. in her walks in the forest at 
Fontainebleau during the whole month of October 1 900, 
that he related the story of his life to her ; and there is 
something which shocks us in the thought that, though 
the story told to Madame X. be true, there was no 
Antoine. At the same time, this objection is not 
paramount ; for we know so little of the ways in which 
supernormal knowledge flows into the mind, that we are 
unable to make any negation concerning them. 

' Moreover, it is, relatively, more rational, not to 


suppose the intervention of another force, since, a la 
rigueur, a human intelligence, under extraordinary condi- 
tions of clairvoyance, may suffice to explain everything. 

* /3. If other personalities intervene, they may be either 
yS', the personality of Antoine B. himself, or, y8", other 
forces non-identical with human personalities. 

* /3'. Assuredly, the hypothesis that it is the conscious- 
ness of Antoine B. himself who came to Madame X. is 
the simplest, and at a first glance, it satisfies us. But 
then ! what a number of objections such a hypothesis 
raises ! How is it possible for the consciousness to 
survive after death .? How can intelligences which 
suffer birth escape death .? A beginning implies an 
end : Birth implies death, the one involves the other ! 

^ ^". Other forces such as genii, demons, angels, etc., 
may exist, as strict logic commands us to admit. There 
is a certain impertinence in supposing that, in the 
Infinite Immensity of Worlds and Forces, man is the 
only force capable of thinking. It seems to me necessary 
to admit, that there exist intelligent forces in nature, 
other than man ; forces, which are constituted differently 
to him, and are consequently imperceptible to his normal 
senses ; these forces may be called angels, genii, demons, 
spirits, no matter the name we give them. It is evident, 
however, that this hypothesis of intelligent forces ought 
not to be confounded with the hypothesis of human 
personalities surviving after death. These are two 
absolutely distinct hypotheses. Now, I think that it is 
not the hypothesis of intelligent forces which is doubt- 
ful ; what is extremely doubtful is that these forces 
can enter into communication with man. Moreover, 
as in the case under notice, why should they take the 


material appearance of a deceased human being, and 
declare their identity with such ? 

' We see that all the explanations so far put forth are 
imperfect, and, for my part, I find them so imperfect, 
that I am inclined to believe in some other hypothesis 
which I do not know, which I cannot even guess, but 
which, nevertheless, I am convinced exists, since here 
we have real facts, which not any of the hypotheses 
heretofore presented can explain in a satisfactory manner. 
It is to this hypothesis X that I attach myself, for the 
present, recognising, while doing so, that there is a 
certain amount of irony in proposing a hypothesis, of 
which I am unable to give the formula. 

* In conclusion, we see that this case of Antoine B. 
involves the whole problem of spiritism. It appeared 
to interest you, my friend, and I have, therefore, related 
it to you, because the simple and complete narration of 
facts ought to precede theories.' 

No'vember 1903. 

'My dear Maxwell, — The series of phenomena 
concerning Antoine B. do not cease with the recital I 
recently sent you. That recital comports an epilogue 
not less extraordinary than itself. I say an "epilogue," 
for most assuredly it has some connection — of a 
psychological order — with the preceding recital. I will 
set it forth as concisely as possible : 

'One evening in May 1903 I was dining with 
Madame X. and her family. After dinner we tried 
for phenomena, but received nothing. Towards the 
close of the evening, shortly before I left, Madame 
X. pronounced the following words — words which I 
wrote down among my notes as soon as I reached 


home — " I see a woman standing near me ; she has 
grey hair, she is about fifty years of age, but looks older 
than she really is. Her hair is quite grey. I believe it 
is Madame B." (Antoine's widow), "though I am not 
quite sure yet. I see the figure 7 with her, which 
probably means that she will die in seven months, or on 
the 7th of some near month." Such is the copy of the 
very brief note I took of Madame X.'s words. I ought to 
add that this note is a much abridged account of Madame 
X.'s actual words, and that she also said : — " Madame B. 
is very ill ; she has some sort of chest complaint — per- 
haps tuberculosis — and she will die very soon indeed." 

* What renders this premonition extremely interesting 
is that Madame B., at that moment, was only very 
slightly ill. She was so slightly indisposed, that not for a 
moment did the thought ever cross my mind, that her 
indisposition might turn into anything serious. Neither 
I nor any one in the world suspected any danger what- 
soever. But fifteen days after this prognostication had 
been made, the apparently slight bronchial affection 
from which Madame B. was suffering, and of which I 
had, naturally, never said a word to Madame X., 
remained stationary, but still the idea that the result 
might prove fatal never entered into any one's head. 

' Nevertheless, the result did prove fatal. Madame B. 
died, within seven weeks after Madame X.'s prediction, 
on Tuesday, 30th June 1903, after a very sudden and 
irresistible aggravation of her previously slight indisposi- 
tion, which carried her off in four or five days. The 
illness turned out to be a sort of pulmonary affection, 
the nature of which is still unknown to the doctors who 
attended her : (tuberculosis ^ infectious grippe ^). 


' An interesting detail : Madame B. had black hair ; 
I, who knew her well, had never noticed any grey in her 
hair ; I did not know she was grey. Now a few days be- 
fore her illness took a serious turn, one of the members 
of my family who had just been paying Madame B. a 
visit, said to me : " Madame B. does not dye her hair any 
longer, so that one can now see how very grey she is ! " 

' Here is a veritable premonition. The authenticity of 
this remarkable fact cannot be doubted, for it would 
have been impossible for me, or for any one else, by 
means of telepathy, or in any other way, to convey to 
Madame X. the idea of a death, in which I did not 
believe, and which did not, even for a moment, cross my 
mind, or any one else's mind. 

' Such, dear Dr. Maxwell, is the epilogue of the recital 
I sent you. Although we cannot state precisely the 
link uniting the diverse psychical phenomena exposed in 
my two letters, I do not think we can consider them as 
independent of each other. There are certain mysterious 
relations here, which the future, aided by our patience, 
will certainly elucidate. — Yours sincerely, 

'Charles Richet.' 

'January 1905. 

'Dear Friend, — During the revision of the above 
pages, whilst I was showing them to Madame X., the 
latter told me that " the family B. were not yet done 
with " \tout n est pas fini encore pour la famille B. /] ; her 
words conveyed to me the impression of a presentiment 
of some misfortune about to fall upon that family. 
These words were uttered between 3 and 4 o'clock on 
the 23rd December 1904. 


' Now, during the night of the 23rd-24th December, 
towards 1 1 o'clock, Louis B. (the son of Antoine B.) 
narrowly escaped being killed in a serious railway 
accident. That he was saved was little short of a 
miracle. When, on the morning of the 24th December, 
I saw by the newspapers that Louis had escaped, I was 
struck by the thought that Madame X.'s prediction 
\jout nest pas fini encore pour la famille 5.] had been 
on the point of becoming realised. 

' Alas ! the presentiment was but too true ; for Oliver 
L., the son of Madame B.'s second husband, was in the 
same train as Louis B., and, though the morning papers 
did not mention the fact, he was killed instantaneously. 

' I have another interesting point to mention in con- 
nection with this presentiment. On the 8th July 1903 
Madame X. wrote to me saying, that Madame B.'s 
death (she had just died) would be soon followed by 
another. She added : ' Some one tells me that one of 
the sons will soon die, — before the end of two years. 
I think it is Jacques B., but they do not say so.' 
\^uelquun me dit qu un des fils mourra bieniot^ avant 
deux ans. Je pense que cest Jacques B.^ mais on ne le dit 

' Thus this premonition — somewhat vague it is true — 
pronounced eighteen months before, was realised. It 
will be remarked that Madame X., by adding her own 
impression to her auditory perception, committed an 
error ; whilst the perception itself, though not very 
explicit, was correct. — Yours very sincerely, 

' Charles Richet.' 



The observations which I have just laid before my 
readers, relate to facts occurring in the domain of 
sensibiHty ; the motor centres do not escape automatism, 
and there is a whole series of motor automatisms, simple 
or mixed, to be noticed. For the sake of clearness, I 
will divide them into four classes : — 

1. Simple muscular automatism : — Typtology ; Plan- 
chette ; and diverse alphabetic systems, ouija, etc. 

2. Graphic muscular automatism : — Automatic script 
and drawing ; Planchettes, baskets, tables. 

3. Phonetic automatism : — Automatic discourses. 

4. Mixed automatisms :— Incarnations. 

I will remark, first of all, that the word automatism, 
borrowed from Myer's terminology, is not strictly correct. 
In reality, we can only speak of automatism when we 
are in presence of mechanical acts, excluding interven- 
tion of the will. Now this is not the case with the acts 
in question ; these acts, which appear to be automatic 
if they are looked at solely from the point of view of the 
personal consciousness, are in reality due to some sort of 
consciousness, parasitic or non-parasitic, and offer the 
characteristic features of voluntary acts. These reserves 
made, I will continue, for want of better, to use the 
word consecrated by custom. 

I. Simple muscular automatism. — I designate thus 
those acts which require no association of complicated 
movements, such as the movements of writing and 
language exact. The simplest way of provoking this auto- 
matism is in the ordinary spiritistic process of typtology. 

The experimenters sit down round a table, and lay 


their hands lightly on it. Sooner or later the table 
trembles, sways about from side to side, sometimes turns 
round, but more often raises one of its feet and strikes 
the ground with it. A code of signals is arranged to 
express ' yes,' ' no,' ' doubtful ' — e.g. three, two, and 
four : — the manner in which the alphabet is to be pointed 
out is also agreed upon, either the table will strike the 
number of the letter's rank, for example, one for A, three 
for C, 15 for O, 20 for T, etc., or it will strike the 
floor when the letter desired is pronounced. 

I rank this phenomenon with automatisms because, 
nearly always, it has appeared to me to be due to invol- 
untary, or unconscious movements. I do not like this 
kind of experiment ; it does not carry conviction. Gas- 
parian, and after him, Chevreul have given the correct 
interpretation of it. 

It is interesting only when the communications 
obtained reveal facts, apparently unknown to the 
experimenters. Then the phenomenon is no longer 
explicable by simple automatic action : the muscular 
movement is determined by the impersonal consciousness 
of the sitters or the medium, and becomes the manner 
of transmitting the message addressed by the impersonal 
consciousness to the personal consciousness. In fact, 
we conceive that, if what I said concerning parakinesis 
be correct, the movements of the table may be some- 
times parakinetic. I have been present at many seances 
for typtology, but I have never verified interesting facts, 
except the one I related concerning Ton ton la Pipe. 
When the experiments are conducted under the condi- 
tions which I consider indispensable, I am careful not 
to encourage typtological manifestations. 


There exists other means of inducing simple muscular 
automatism. The best are instruments after the style of 
the psychograph. The alphabet, numbers, and the words 
' yes,' ' no,' ' I do not know,' are written on a dial in 
the centre of which a needle is placed. The displace- 
ments of this index hand indicate the letters, numbers, 
etc., like the needle of the dial of a Breguet telegraph. 
These dials are made of different sizes, and of different 
materials. It is best, however, to construct them in the 
following manner : — take a square piece of white wood, 
non-resinous, from seventeen to twenty inches broad. 
Trace thereon a circumference of seven to nine inches in 
diameter, and write around it the letters of the alphabet, 
numbers, the words, ' yes,' ' no,' ' I do not know,' and any 
other desired indications. Place in the centre of the circle 
a bone or ivory pivot, the axis round which the needle 
will turn. Make the needle of wood, giving it enough 
thickness and solidity for the hands to be able to rest on it. 
It is not necessary to give much mobility to the needle if 
the hands are to rest on it ; in this case, it will sufHce 
to pierce a hole in it, through which the pivot may pass.^ 

I have been told of cases where the needle moved of 
its own accord ; but I have not personally verified this 
fact. If movements of the needle without contact be 
desired, it would be well to give a more perfect suspen- 
sion to the needle : this may be accomplished by support- 
ing it on small movable rollers, like those on the plan- 
chettes used for automatic writing. 

I have rarely experimented with psychographs, for 
the same reasons which made me shun typtology. 

1 Articles of this nature may be found at Leymarie's, 42 Rue Saint-Jacques, 
Paris ; and at the office of Lig/it, 1 10 St. Martin's Lane, London. 


I will say the same thing of another kind of apparatus : 
the ouija, made in England. It is a board on which 
the alphabet and other signs are written, A small 
movable planchette supported on three or four feet 
is placed on the board ; the sitters put their hands 
on the planchette which points out the letters, etc., 
with one of its feet, a process which is irksome, to say 
the least of it. 

There are yet other means for inducing muscular 
automatism. I will point out, as an example, the very 
ancient method of divination by the ring. A metal, or 
better still an ivory ring, is suspended to a hair or silken 
thread. The end of the hair or thread is held in the 
fingers ; the ring is held, thus suspended, in the centre 
of a small circle of three or four inches in diameter on 
which the alphabet is written. 

At the end of a certain time, the ring sways about, 
then strikes the letters, sometimes spelling out words. 
By placing the ring in a glass, it will strike against it, 
giving indications in this way. I have only used this 
method once or twice, for it seemed to me to present 
very little interest. This is in reality Chevreul's explor- 
ing pendulum. 

2. Automatic script. — Automatic writing is, I think, 
one of the most interesting of all phenomena ; I have 
no need to bring to mind the important studies which 
Myers, Hodgson, Hyslop, Sidgwick, and others have 
made on this phenomena. I have been able to make 
some observations of great interest, but the limits of 
this book do not permit me to give a detailed report of 
them. The thorough examination I made of one par- 
ticular case of automatic writing — a rather rudimentary 


case, it is true — clearly revealed to me the play of the 
unconscious souvenirs of the medium. 

The methods for obtaining automatic writing are 
numerous. We can even make a table write by fixing a 
pencil to one of its feet ; the same with a hat or basket, 
etc. More perfect methods exist, of which the follow- 
ing are the best : — 

First of all the planchette ; an instrument in the 
shape of an oval piece of wood, resting on three movable 
tiny ivory rollers, with a small copper setting at one end, 
in which a lead-pencil may be screwed. With the plan- 
chette two or three persons may write at the same time. 

Another equally good method is the following : Fix 
two, three or four handles on to a large wooden ball, of 
about seven inches in diameter. Fix the pencil in a hole 
bored through the ball, each handle of which is held by 
an experimenter. Place a sheet of paper underneath 
the pencil, the latter will then often move and write 
words and phrases. 

Finally, the best method of all is to write naturally, 
without any instrument at all. The sensitive sits down 
with a pencil, as though to write, and waits. 

Whatever the method adopted may be, it is seldom 
that automatic writing is manifested at the outset. 
Generally one or several seances are passed in illegible 
scribblings, in making strokes, zigzags, in endless 
repetitions of the same letter. But we must not be dis- 
couraged ; on the contrary, we must continue experi- 
menting for a certain time, before concluding to the 
impossibility of success. Whether we be trying to 
obtain collective or ordinary automatic writing, it is a 
good plan to consecrate ten or fifteen minutes every day, 


always at the same hour, to these trials. The pheno- 
menon takes a long time to evolve, and people, who have 
obtained most curious results with automatic writing, 
have passed months in developing their faculty. 

As I said before, I have chiefly directed my experi- 
ments towards the observation of movements without 
contact ; therefore, I have not sought very assiduously 
to obtain automatic writing with my mediums. The 
greater number of cases I have observed offer little 
interest, if we compare them to the curious visual hallu- 
cinations which I related a little while ago. I will make 
an exception though for one which I am in the act of 
studying, and which makes me conceive some hopes, 
the sensitive having written in English, a language 
which I am positive he does not know. This medium, 
like many I have met with, submits grudgingly to these 
experiments, and has not yet consented to sit regularly 
for automatic writing. I hope I may succeed in per- 
suading him to do so. 

Though my observations present very little relative 
interest, I will give some examples of the results I have 
obtained personally. I will give them simply as indica- 
tions, for, none of the facts I have observed present, 
so far, any real interest, except the one I was able to 
analyse, and even this contains nothing of a transcen- 
dental nature. 

I myself have often tried to write with the planchette. 
I obtained words and incoherent phrases, all extremely 
commonplace. I wrote alone or with others ; alone, I 
obtained it with the left as well as with the right hand. 
The left hand sometimes gives mirror-writing, Spiegel- 
schrift ; with the planchette, the left hand generally writes 


in the usual manner from left to right. One point to be 
noted with planchette-writing, is the dissociation of the 
graphic elements. The letters are as a rule fairly large, 
varying from an eighth of an inch to nearly an inch. It 
is chiefly in capital letters we find the dissociation 
curious. The characteristics of my hand-writing are 
not altered. I will add that this manifestation does not 
present much interest, for I am perfectly conscious of 
what I write when alone, and when I write with another 
person, the movements of the planchette indicate to me 
what letters are being formed. 

With the ball and handles, of which I gave a descrip- 
tion, I once observed a curious fact. I was experiment- 
ing with a lady and her husband ; the former is a 
medium whose faculties are above the average. The 
writing announced the reception of a letter from 
Hendaye on the morrow. The letter came ; but to 
demonstrate the premonitory feature of this fact, I have 
only the affirmation of my co-experimenters, and 
although they are people of unimpeachable probity, 
their affirmation alone would be insufficient to establish 
the reality of the premonition in a positive manner. 
Therefore, I only give it as a specimen of the facts which 
may be obtained with automatic writing. 

I have often observed ordinary writing, but I have 
never obtained a veridic paranormal fact in this way. I 
have, as I said, studied a case of semi-automatic writing, 
and was able to analyse its psychological features 
thoroughly. The writer was what spiritualists call an 
intuitive medium, that is to say, he was conscious of what 
he wrote. He was thirty-five years of age, and had 
never indulged in spiritistic practices before, though he 



knew the literature, especially Allan Kardac's works. 
At the time the phenomenon manifested itself with him, 
he was mentally overdone through excess of brain work. 
He occupied an important official position. Apparently 
he has no nervous defect, and, except for frequent 
headaches, his health is good. I have not been able to 
study his reflex movements, nor examine him from a 
somatic point of view. 

He commenced writing with the planchette ; he had 
a sensation of being guided, but knew what he wrote and 
what he was going to write. There was, therefore, a 
beginning of dissociation between the mental images, 
properly so called, and their motor action. This fact 
should be noted, because it seems to me to have an 
interesting signification, in so far as it demonstrates that 
the ideomotor image is not simple, but has complex 
elements, and, notably, that elements which are purely 
ideal and motor elements can become dissociated. In 
the example cited, the sensitive was fully conscious of 
the ideas which were formed in, or which presented 
themselves to, his consciousness. On the contrary, he 
was not fully conscious of the movements his hand made. 
The stereognostic perception and the muscular sense 
were intact ; only the consciousness of the origin of the 
accomplished movement was obscure ; therefore, it was 
only the sphere of voluntary motor power in the 
personal consciousness which was touched. 

The first manifestations of pseudo-automatic writing 
claimed to emanate from a deceased relation. This 
relation was quite disposed to communicate facts known 
to the sensitive, but manifested very little eagerness to 
answer questions which the sensitive's consciousness could 


not answer. Invited to justify his identity, the person- 
ality showed itself incapable of giving the slightest proof. 

Meanwhile, the sensitive tried ordinary writing, and 
obtained it. It presented the same features as planchette- 
writing. A new personification came and assisted the 
deceased relation — he was nothing less than a Mahatma 
from India ! At this time the sensitive was reading the 
works of Madame Blavatsky and Mr. Sinnett, especially 
the latter' s Occult World. The communications were 
signed Hymaladar. This Mahatma presented nothing of 
transcendental interest, and was lavish with his promises. 
He declared he was ready to undertake the exoteric 
education of the sensitive, who, in his naivete, yielded 
to the Mahatma's advice. The Mahatma promised to 
transport him actually over to India, to precipitate 
letters, etc. The promises were never fulfilled. 

Other personifications manifested ; the sensitive tried 
to obtain some proofs of identity, but without success. 
On the other hand the personifications were verbose on 
general topics, and gave proof of a lively imagination. 
Here are some specimens of their style and ideas. 

A guide, signing himself Memnon, expressed the 
following opinion upon a certain mystic book : — 

' . . . Do not allow yourself to be led away by its 
descriptions : they apply to all those who, in no matter 
what religion, devote themselves to a contemplative life, 
which is, assuredly, a blessing, but one which must be 
won by patience and effort. When the duties common 
to every man born of the flesh have been fulfilled, ab- 
stention from the imperious duty of procreation can, and 
really does, favour the faculty for projection of the soul, 
and renders ecstasy easier; but not only is such a 


development artificial, it is also reprehensible to arrive at 
that contemplative life, without having founded a family 
in compliance with the imprescriptible law of nature. 
Herein lies the original vice of all religious communities 
which offend creation's views ; it would suffice to 
generalise the doctrine to discover its falseness imme- 
diately. Man has physical as well as moral duties to 
accomplish : he is composed of a body and a soul ; he is 
culpable when he subordinates one of his composing 
parts to the other. The senses have no more the right 
to command the body than the soul has of making the 
body suffer in its physical functions. The suppression 
of any natural function is criminal, and every religious 
order does this. This is their capital error. He who 
has raised children and satisfied the physical evolution, 
he alone has the right to withdraw from the world, to 
lead a contemplative life, when the body, worn out by 
old age, has finished its active role here below. It is 
only then that preparation is useful.' 

The pencil was verbose every time general subjects 
were broached. Whenever the sensitive pressed the 
personification on some given point, the latter was silent 
— he disappeared. The questions were written as well 
as the replies. There are some amusing conversations, 
where the ' spirit ' plays a role other than that of simple 
interlocutor. By way of specimen, I note the following 
dialogue : — 

Q. Do you see me } 

A. Yes, but badly ; we do not see matter clearly ; a 
long apprenticeship is necessary, and we have not been 
working long with matter. 

Q. Is it long since you left your sphere ? 


A. Eight years. 

Q. Who are you ? 

A. Monsieur A. 

Q. And? 

A. And Mamie Beaupuyat. 

Q. You have known me ? 

A. Yes, I was one of your college friends. 

Q. Where.? 

A. At N. 

Q. What college ? 

A. Z. College. 

Q. Will you write your name again .'' 

A. Maurice B. (here the name of a street). 

Q. I do not remember having known you my friend. 
Remark this, you have given me two different names, 
Beaupuyat and B. 

A. Many details are forgotten in Paradise (sic). 

Q. Ah ! strange ambassador ! You come to see me 
without letters of credit 1 

A. Good-bye. 

Q. Good-night. 

The subconscious excuse for the contradiction pointed 
out is not wanting in humour. 

Here is another example : — 

Q. Are my guides here ? 

A. We are always at hand to help you, always. 

Q. Will you show yourselves to me ? 

A. Ought you to ask us for anything before giving 
us tokens ? 

Q. Is it X, who is influencing me ? 


A. Yes. 

Q. But he is dead ? 
A. Yes. 

Q. But you forbid me to evoke the dead ? 
A. We are the spirits of dead people. 
Q. But you told me you were Mahatmas } 
A. We are M.ahatmas^ but Mahatmas are not living. 
Q. Is it again a trick of my subliminal ? 
A. Yes, your subliminal is the will. 
Q. Yes, it is true, but the will is chiefly superliminal. 
A. You are right. 

Q. Why do you always make fun of me ^ 
A. We do so to please the Lord. 

Q. This is cruel. I am in earnest, and your lord, if 
he be just, will punish you severely for your farces. 
A. Yes, he will give us the whip. 
Q. I do not like this joking, leave me. 
A. Always . . . (illegible). 
Q. What.? 
A. Magician. 
Q. Am I a magician ^ 
A. Yes. 

Q. I did not know it. 

A. Always do good, and you will be happy. 
Q. Happiness is not so easy to obtain. 
A. Good-bye. 
Q. Who are you ? 
A. A friend. 

This is simply nonsense. I have quoted these three 
examples in order to show the growing analogy found 
therein with the delirium of dream. It is scarcely visible 


in the first quotation, which is coherent, logical and of 
fairly elegant form. But the ideas which are expressed 
have their sources in subconscious souvenirs : they 
will be found in Spirit Teachings^ Higher Aspects of 
Spiritualising Occult World, and Esoteric Buddhism. 

The second quotation reveals decided oneiroscopic 
associations. The name Beaupuyat awakens no souvenir ; 
the name of a street having nearly the same assonance 
is then substituted for it ; this is an illogical association, 
formed by phonetic elements. The explanation of the 
contradiction between the names given successively is very 
illogical, but it is what might be called ' a good hit.' This 
is one of our ways of reasoning with ourselves in dreams. 

The third quotation shows a still more marked degree 
of incoherence. The first replies are attempts at con- 
ciliation of contradictions impossible to do away with : 
they are affirmations which are but echoes of the ques- 
tions asked. I do not quite understand the association 
between subliminal and will ; but the emergence of the 
idea of will gives place to a curious phenomenon : the 
evolution of a parasitical association of ideas bringing 
to mind the psychological phenomenon which A. Pick 
describes under the name of Vorheidenken. We have 
non-expressed stages, from will to ' God's will,' words 
which are often associated together in religious language : 
'to do the will of God, to be agreeable to God.' The 
incoherent reply, which consists in saying that the 
Mahatmas make fun of the subject in order to be 
agreeable to God, Is then the last link of a chain of 
latent associations ; this last link is the only one shown. 
Also, the incongruous idea of beings who call them- 
selves spirits and wise men, and declare they must be 


whipped, is the result of an evident association between 
the idea of being severe consciously expressed, and the 
idea of severity, chastisement, whip, average latent terms. 
The psychological analysis, therefore, reveals to us 
mental processes which are known and classed. It 
shows us, that the dream character of subconscious 
messages does not differ from that observed in the 
mental operations of the consciousness, as soon as 
the latter's personal and voluntary activity becomes 
weakened or gradually gives place to spontaneous 
ideation. I think the three examples I have chosen 
show this progressive debihtation very well, and also 
the corresponding accentuation of the characteristics 
of dream in the messages obtained. The case I 
examined is at the limit of paranormal facts, but the 
inquisitive reader has at his disposal the weighty 
analysis of the transcendental cases published in the 
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research^ epitomised 
by M. Sage in his book Mrs. Piper et la Societe Anglo- 
Americaine des Recherches Psychiques^ to verify the 
accuracy of my conclusion, viz. that the mental pro- 
cesses in simple cases, as well as in the more complex 
cases, are identical. 

I return to the case observed by me. The obstinacy 
of even the best and most moral of these personalities in 
refusing to expose themselves to any control whatso- 
ever, the falsehoods they were imprudent enough to 
overlook, and the critical attitude of mind of the 
sensitive himself, awakened a spirit of distrust in the 
latter. He began to observe himself, and the first result 
of his observation of the conditions under which the 
writing was produced, was the gradual disappearance of 


the sensation of impulse which he had felt : his pencil, 
he told me, had seemed to follow a magnet. As this 
sensation weakened and disappeared, so the personifica- 
tions affected to be either grievously pained, or cold and 
dignified, or frankly insolent ; they all deplored the 
sensitive's incredulity. The relation bade him adieu and 
appeared no more ; Hymaladar himself ceased to be 
interested in his chela. The sensitive soon saw the 
futility of his efforts, and the writing ceased completely 
to present the peculiarity it had offered during several 

This case is instructive, because it is on the border- 
line between conscious and unconscious phenomena. 
Thanks to the clear and complete indications on the 
part of the sensitive, I was able to reconstitute the 
genesis of every personality. That of the relation is 
easily explained, but Hymaladar was more rebellious 
to analysis. Upon investigation it appeared to me to 
be the synthesis of the words Hymalaya and Damodar. 
The one, which quite naturally evokes the thought of 
India, is the dwelling-place of the sages who, it appears, 
preside in a very secret manner at the evolution of the 
theosophical movement ; the disciple or chela of one of 
them was the guru, the master of Madame Blavatsky. 
His name was Damodar. The associated ideas — 
Blavatsky, India, Hymalaya, Damodar — lead up to the 
word Hymala (ya Damo) dar-^ the genesis of the word 
is thus quite comprehensible. 

At present I am observing a more complex case, in 
which paranormal phenomena accompany automatic 
writing. The sensitive, who is in the act of developing 
his medianity, unfortunately gives himself up rather 


unwillingly to observation. He does not know English, 
yet he has automatically written certain phrases in 
EngHsh. However, we must not conclude therefrom, 
that these messages are of transcendental origin. This 
sensitive is a well-educated person, and most probably 
English words and phrases have fallen under his eyes 
from time to time ; thus the irruption of English in 
messages he obtains may be explained by the emergence 
of subconscious souvenirs. The tenor of the messages 
is still vague ; the writing is often difficult to read ; no 
precise fact capable of being analysed and verified has so 
far been given. It appears to me useless, in these cir- 
cumstances, to give examples of these messages, but I 
will point out an interesting peculiarity which I have 
observed only with this sensitive. This is the con- 
comitancy of raps and automatic writing. I have most 
carefully studied these raps ; they appear to me to occur 
on a level with the point of the pencil. The pheno- 
menon is forthcoming in broad daylight, and under 
excellent conditions of observation. An attentive 
examination shows that the point of the pencil does 
not leave the paper. The raps are forthcoming even 
when I put my finger on the upper end of the pencil, 
and when I press the point on the paper. The pencil 
vibrates, but it is not displaced. As these raps are very 
sonorous, I have calculated that it would be necessary to 
give rather a strong knock in order to reproduce them 
artificially : the necessary movement would require rais- 
ing the pencil from the twentieth to the eighth of an 
inch, according to the intensity of the raps. Now, the 
pencil does not appear to be displaced. Further, when 
the writing runs quickly the raps succeed one another 


with great rapidity, and the close examination of the 
writing reveals no stops ; the text is unbroken, no trace 
of pencil dots is perceptible, there is no thickening of 
the characters. The conditions of observation appear to 
me to exclude the possibility of a trick. I will add that 
during this automatic writing the arm and hand of the 
sensitive are in a state of anaesthesia. 

3. Phonetic and mixed automatisms. I combine 
these two categories of automatisms because the auto- 
matism is seldom purely phonetic. The sensitive makes 
gestures appropriate to the personage he represents, and 
the automatism is complicated ; the muscles which 
regulate the emission of the voice are not the only 
ones in activity. 

This kind of automatism is very easy to observe. It 
is the basis of ordinary spiritistic seances; it is called 
' incarnation ' or ' control,' and the sensitive, who pro- 
duces this kind of phenomena, is called a ' trance 

Its necessary condition is the trance or somnam- 
bulistic state. The sensitive falls asleep spontaneously, 
or is put to sleep artificially by passes. After a certain 
time, more or less long, and after diverse movements, 
the most usual of which seem to be muscular contractions 
of the face and pharynx, the sensitive enters into som- 
nambulism and passes into the secondary state. Some 
subjects fall asleep very quickly. It is not a rare thing 
in spiritistic seances, for two or three persons to enter 
into a state of somnambulism at the same time. The 
perfection of the sensitive's acting, when personifying 
diverse individualities, is most striking when they have 
known the persons they are imitating. Observation 


is extremely interesting. In spiritistic seances these 
personalities, naturally, always represent spirits. 

I have seen nothing in this order of phenomenon 
which appeared to me worth noting. Everything is 
easily explained by the play of impersonal memory and 
by imitation. Many transcendental facts have been 
related to me : personally I have observed none. But 
I have very rarely tried to provoke trance phenomena. 
They do not present the same interest to me as physical 
phenomena do. The most interesting I have seen, were 
given me by Madame Agullana, in private seances. 
This sensitive's most curious personality is that of a 
doctor, who died about eighty or a hundred years ago : 
he has always refused to give any information concerning 
his identity ; the reason he advances for maintaining his 
incognito — the existence of his family, members of whom 
are living in the south of France — does not satisfy 
me ; I imagine he is withholding the best. His medical 
language is archaic. He calls plants by their ancient 
medical names ; his diagnosis, accompanied with extra- 
ordinary explanations, is generally correct, but the 
description of the internal symptoms which he perceives 
is such as would astound a doctor of the twentieth 
century. Matters, fluids, molecules, dance a strange 
saraband. Nevertheless, my colleague from beyond the 
tomb — not at all loquacious, by the way — retains a 
serenity, which is proof against everything, and humbly 
recognises that there are many things he does not know. 
During the ten years I have been observing him, he has 
not changed, and presents a logical continuity which is 
most striking. Persons, who are not au courant with 
the features of secondary personalities, might easily be 


deceived and believe in his objective reality. Be he what 
he says he is, or be he what I suspect him to be, that is 
to say, one of the sensitive's secondary personalities, 
my confrere Hippolytus is an interesting interlocutor, 
and, with his conversation, one could write a work on 
clinical medicine v/hich would be rather out of the 
common. This is not the place to study him, for his 
examination only raises problems of psychological 
interest. In these phenomena of mixed automatism, of 
' incarnation,' we observe the complete development of 
personifications. These personifications are the feature 
common to all psychical phenomena. Raps claim to 
emanate from a given personality, paranormal move- 
ments have the same pretension, automatic script assures 
us of a like origin : ' incarnation ' or ' control ' puts 
forth the claim of being the personality himself, in full 
possession of the sensitive's body, directing and using 
it as he pleases. 

The problem which these personifications set before 
us is, perhaps, the most interesting of all those which 
are to be met with, in the kind of study to which this 
book is consecrated. I have pointed out, that the general 
feature of these personifications is to present themselves 
as living — or more usually deceased human beings. My 
observations do not tend to make me think that this 
claim is well founded. It does not come within the 
scheme of my work to analyse the different hypotheses, 
which have been emitted by the different mystic schools. 
Occultists profess to see astral shells, in these personifica- 
tions, debris — still organised — of the body's astral double, 
which the superior principles have abandoned. Theoso- 
phists have about the same theory, designating these 


debris by the name of elementals. Spiritists attribute 
their phenomena to the spirits of the dead. Roman 
Catholics see the intervention of the devil therein, while 
the greater number of savants only see fraud or chimera. 
All these opinions are too absolute. There is, certainly, 
something ; but I think this something is neither spirit, 
shell, elemental nor demon. It is not my province 
to formulate in detail my theory : properly speaking, 
I have not any. I observe without bias of any kind, 
and the only indication I can give is the following : — 
in almost every case I have studied, I believe I recognised 
the mentality of the medium and the sitters in the 
personification. It is true, there are certain cases which 
I cannot explain in this way ; but the spirit hypothesis 
explains them still less satisfactorily. We must continue 

The examples I have given of intellectual phenomena 
show that in every case of which I have been able to 
make a thorough analysis, we discover the action of the 
impersonal consciousness. This explains itself naturally, 
since the personal and voluntary consciousness excludes 
by definition the co-existence of a second personality. 
Nevertheless, this is not absolutely true. The medium, 
of whom I have already spoken, he who produces raps 
when writing, writes automatically while he speaks, in 
quite a natural way, of other things. In fact, he only 
writes well when his attention is drawn away from his 
hand. As soon as he is conscious of the movement, 
the writing ceases. Things happen with him, as though 
the normal consciousness lost all contact with the motor 
centres of the arm and hand. A special consciousness 
appears to be developed in these centres. 



The difficulty, which is raised by the interpretation 
of facts of the kind exposed above, is considerable. It 
is to be remembered, that the sensitive of whom I have 
just spoken, does not appear to suffer any diminution 
of his normal personality ; he converses with facility, 
his normal personal souvenirs and his intelligence remain 
intact. His arm and hand alone, especially the latter, 
are withdrawn from consciousness, and this in the 
sensitive as well as in the motor spheres. Janet sees in 
these facts psychological disaggregation, and in many 
cases his explication is the correct one. But it cannot 
be applied to the case I am speaking of, for no 
diminution in the memory, intelligence or mental 
activity is perceptible. However, Janet seems to have 
only seen one of the phases of these curious pheno- 
mena. I attach so much importance to the establishing 
of the point de fait that, before all analysis thereof, 
I desire to state it precisely, successively with the 

The first circumstance of fact which observation of 
the case I am examining reveals, is the one I have 
just pointed out : an apparent dissociation of the normal 
personality, from the cenesthesic consciousness of which 
a portion of the body is withdrawn. The second 
circumstance is the relative knowledge of English — 
with correct orthography excepting one mistake only — 
which is shown by the apparently self-governed limb. 
Note also that I feel sure that this knowledge of English 
is probably subconscious, and that I have supposed, 
although this has not been proved, that the writer has 


now and then come across a few English sentences, 
containing the phrases written by him. These two 
circumstances are, for me, observed facts. 

From these facts there results a third fact, the conse- 
quence of the first two : the consciousness, which directs 
the limb withdrawn from the personality, appears to have 
more considerable resources — at least from a memory 
point of view — than the normal consciousness. If it be 
correct to speak of apparent disaggregation in that which 
concerns the conscious normal personality, it seems to me 
that this expression ceases to represent the facts, as soon 
as it can be demonstrated, that the consciousness mani- 
fested by the automatism is more extensive than the 
normal consciousness. If we are to attach a precise 
meaning to language — and Janet's language is so clear 
and simple that we may not accuse this elegant and 
remarkable writer of want of precision — the idea of 
disaggregation implies the division of the personal 
consciousness into elementary parts, according to defini- 
tion, lesser than the whole. This phenomenon is 
frequently observed, e.g. when automatic writing shows 
itself to be incapable of logical co-ordination, of which 
I have given examples ; sometimes there is no trace 
of thought, properly so called, e.g. when the sensitive 
confines himself to repeating sine die the same letter, or 
traces nothing but lines, and strokes, etc. But can we 
consider the case as one of veritable disaggregation where 
the hand, withdrawn from normal consciousness, appears 
to dispose of a greater mass of souvenirs than the normal 
consciousness does ? 

Janet himself has verified the fact, and gives some 
examples of it in his work, Nevroses et idees fixes., vol i. 


After that, is it not contradictory to say {^Automathme 
psychologique, p. 452) : ' The result of our studies has 
been to bring back the diverse phenomena of automatism 
to their essential conditions — most of these phenomena 
depend upon a state of anaesthesia or abstraction. This 
state is connected with the narrowing of the field of 
consciousness, and this narrowing itself is due to the 
feebleness of synthesis and the disaggregation of the 
mental compound into diverse groups smaller than they 
should normally be. These diverse points are easy to 
verify ; the state of abstraction, incoherence, of dis- 
aggregation, in a word, of suggestible individuals has 
often been pointed out.' How can a group, smaller 
than the mental compound of which it forms one of 
the parts, be more considerable than that compound ? 
How can a part be greater than its whole ? This is, 
nevertheless, a fact easily verifiable in the domain of 
memory and sometimes in that of intelligence. Janet's 
theory explains only some of the observable facts ; it 
is only partially true. It suffices to compare the quota- 
tion I have just given with what he says in his work, 
Nevroses et idees fixes^ vol. i. p. 137 : 'The souvenir 
even in somnambulism only exists if the patient be 
oblivious to everything and replies automatically to 
questions, by the mechanical association of ideas without 
reflection, without the personal perception of what he is 

' . . . The souvenir, in a word, is only manifested 
unknown to the person : it disappears when the person 
has to speak or write in his own name, conscious of what 
he is doing.' For Janet this is the sign of mental 



The quotations 1 have just given define sharply Janet's 
opinion, and show up his mistake and his contradiction. 
That which becomes disaggregated is the personality, the 
personal consciousness. But it does not become resolved 
into groups smaller than they ought normally to be, 
since these groups often show themselves to be more 
comprehensive than the mental compound. It is, there- 
fore, illogical to consider them as a part which has 
become dissociated from the whole. 

I have already had occasion to express my manner of 
thinking in other writings : nevertheless, perhaps I may 
be permitted to indicate the direction which psychological 
interpretation should take in order to avoid an encounter 
with facts. 

The personal consciousness is only one of the modali- 
ties of the general consciousness. Clinical observation 
reveals that, in a great many cases, it has been proved, 
that the souvenirs stored up in the general conscious- 
ness are infinitely more numerous, than those which 
the personal consciousness has at its free disposition. 
Myers has expressed these ideas most happily in the 
following words (' The Subliminal Consciousness,' Pro- 
ceedings, S. P. R.y vii. p. 301) : — 

' I suggest, then, that the stream of consciousness in 
which we habitually live is not the only consciousness 
which exists in connection with our organism. Our 
habitual or empirical consciousness may consist of a 
mere selection from a multitude of thoughts and sensa- 
tions, of which some at least are equally conscious with 
those that we empirically know. I accord no primacy 
to my ordinary waking self, except that among my 
potential selves this one has shown itself the fittest to 


meet the needs of common life. I hold that it has 
established no further claim, and that it is perfectly 
possible that other thoughts, feelings, and memories, 
either isolated or in continuous connection, may now 
be actively conscious, as we say, ' within me ' — in some 
kind of co-ordination with my organism, and forming 
some part of my total individuality. I conceive it 
possible that at some future time, and under changed 
conditions, I may recollect all; I may assume these 
various personalities under one single consciousness, in 
which ultimate and complete consciousness the empirical 
consciousness which at this moment directs my hand 
may be only one element out of many.' 

He appears to me to be nearer the truth than Janet is : 
I do not know if we shall ever arrive at that complete 
consciousness which Myers hopes for, but it seems to 
me probable, that our personal consciousness is only 
one element of our general consciousness. This latter 
becomes concrete and definite, but also grows less by 
becoming personal. The apparent supremacy of the 
personal consciousness may be only an effect of the 
circumstances in which we are evolving ; if Darwin's 
ideas are true, we can understand that the necessities 
of life may have favoured the development of the active, 
voluntary, personal consciousness ; we can imagine other 
conditions — which the monastic life sometimes realises 
— where the active and voluntary phases of the general 
consciousness may be less evolved than its receptive and 
passive phases. Therefore, the psychologist finds the 
study of hagiography teeming with information. 

Janet's disaggregation is but the weakening of the 
sentiment of the conscious and voluntary personal 


activity, of what I called the sentiment of the personal 
participation in intercurrent psychological phenomena. 
It is no veritable disaggregation ; it is a disappearance 
of one modality of the consciousness, of one of its 
limited expressions^ so to speak. However, I recognise, 
with Janet, that this mode of expression of the con- 
sciousness is the necessary basis of our activity in 
ordinary life, and that it is legitimate to consider as 
invalids, those persons in whom it is normally wanting. 
But the fact itself of its disappearance has more the 
features of an integration than of a disintegration, since 
upon an attentive examination, the personal consciousness 
is revealed as a limitation and a special determination of 
the general consciousness of which it is, in a way, a 
dismemberment. If 1 dared to use metaphysical 
language, I would say that rational and voluntary 
activity is in reahty a disaggregation ; personality is 
only a contingent and limited manifestation of the 
being, or rather of individuality. This latter, to use 
the expression of an eminent philosopher, would be 
superior to reason itself, and of irrational essence, an 
idea which contains the first principles of a new philo- 
sophy. I m_ake this incursion into metaphysics merely 
to show how narrow Janet's theories are, and what 
different consequences result from such a professional 
manner of thinking as his is, and from a more general 
conception of that, of which his manner of thinking only 
concerns one particular case. 

The facts, moreover, condemn Janet's theory. I 
have too high an opinion of the distinguished man 
whose ideas I criticise, but whose works 1 admire 
sincerely, not to be convinced that he has only observed 


undeveloped subjects. What demonstrates this in my 
eyes is his timid affirmation, that ' nearly always (I do 
not say always in order not to prejudice an important 
question) these mediums are neurotics, when they are 
not downright hysterics.' It is difficult to discuss an 
opinion expressed with so much reserve, and I can 
only commend him for his circumspection, for my 
personal observations contradict his. I have seen many 
mediums : the best were not neurotics in the medical 
sense of the word. The finest experiments I have 
made have been with persons appearing to present none 
of the stigmae of hysteria. Up to the present Janet seems 
to have operated with invalids only, and I am not sur- 
prised, therefore, that he should assimilate the automatic 
phenomena of sensitives with those of his hysterical 
patients. It would be surprising were it otherwise. I 
am not going to defend spiritistic mediums ; they appear 
to me to present very poor interest— at least in ordinary 
seances — but my duty is to protest against the generality 
of the judgment which Janet brings to bear upon auto- 
matic phenomena. Those facts, which are worthy of 
careful observation, differ essentially from those which 
ordinary hysterics present. They indicate no mish~e 
psychologique — quite the contrary, and I will state the 
reasons why. 

The discussion, in order to be clear, must be divided : 
I. The phenomena observable with good mediums 
are not those we observe in hysterical patients. I said I 
had obtained raps and movements without contact under 
conditions of control, which appeared to me to be con- 
vincing, I added that I had obtained by raps, or by 
the rappings of a table without contact, words and 


phrases which were extremely coherent. This is not 
quite the kind of phenomena to which hospital patients 
have accustomed us. What does Janet say on this 
point ? 

* The essential point of spiritism is indeed, we believe, 
the disaggregation of psychological phenomena, and the 
formation beyond the personal perception of a second 
series of thoughts detached from the first. As for the 
means which the second personality employs to manifest 
itself unknown to the first — movements of tables, auto- 
matic writing or speaking, etc. . . . — this is a secondary 
question (sic). Where do those sounds come from 
which are heard on tables and walls in answer to 
questions.^ Is it from a movement of the toes, of that 
contraction of the tendon supposed by Jobert de 
Lamballe ....'' Is it from a contraction of the stomach 
and from a veritable ventriloquism as Gros. Jean 
supposes, or from some other physical action yet 
unknown ^ Are they produced by the automatic 
movements of the medium himself, or, indeed, as 
appears to me most likely in some cases, in the 
obscurity demanded by the spirits (I) by the subconscious 
actions of one of the assistants, who deceives others 
and himself at the same time, and who becomes an 
accomplice without knowing it? It does not matter 
very much.' 

That is not my opinion. I think, on the contrary, 
it matters a great deal. I am positive that every sincere 
and patient experimenter will observe, as I have done, 
in broad daylight, and not in obscurity, sounds and 
movements which will not appear to be explicable by 
any known cause. Those who, like myself, have 


verified these facts, will not dream of attributing them 
to unconscious or involuntary movements, to the 
cracking of a tendon, to ventriloquism. The cases 
observed by me will not admit of this explanation. 
Things happen as though some force or other were 
produced by the medium and the assistants, and could 
act beyond the limits of the body. If this fact be 
correct, can we consider it as secondary and without 
importance .'' On the contrary, does it not open to 
the psychology of the future the road of direct 
observation and experimentation, if, as I have tried to 
show, this force preserves certain relations with our 
general consciousness ? Does this not make one think 
of those words of Proclus when speaking of souls : — 

TpLTT) oe avrat? Trdpecmv rj Kara Tr)v IBiap virap^iv 
evipyeia, KiirqTiKT] jxev vwdp-^ovcra roiv ^vaei 
erepoKLPTJTCov. Souls have a third force inherent to 
their essence, that of moving things which by their very 
nature are put into movement by an energy foreign to 

Has not Janet a singular way of reasoning ? He 
makes a reserve on the existence of another ' physical 
action yet unknown,' but quickly forgets it, and reasons 
as though that action were perfectly well known. ' That 
action, whatever it may be, is a/ways an involuntary 
and unconscious action of some one or other : the 
involuntary word from the intestines (!) is not more 
miraculous than is the involuntary word from the 
mouth ; it is the psychological side of the problem 
which is the most interesting, and which ought to be 
the most studied.' 

I am sure that those of my readers, whose patience 


has not been too severely tested by my long analysis 
of facts observed, will not consider my distinguished 
colleague's conclusion as acceptable. The most interest- 
ing side of the phenomenon is, I think, the one which 
reveals to us an apparently new mode of action of the 
nervous influx upon matter. 

2. These phenomena, again, are not the indication of 
a mis^re psychologique, as Janet thinks. 

Let us discuss the cases observed by me. To follow 
my reasoning, it will be necessary to be familiar with 
the works of Gurney, Podmore, Sidgwick, Myers, 
Barrett, Hodgson, Lodge, Hyslop, du Prel, Perty, 
Hellenbach, Aksakow, Richet, de Rochas. To-day, 
it is no longer possible to shun the work of such savants, 
(when dealing with a question of such a nature as that 
which engrossed Janet) by simply saying as he did ' that 
he had not had occasion to read the Philosophie der 
Mystik of a man like du Prel.' He should have read 
that book . . . and many more. 

It seems to me to be now quite an established fact, 
that the impersonal consciousness is capable of per- 
ceiving accurate impressions independently of the senses. 
It translates these impressions in diverse ways in order 
to transmit them to the personal consciousness, but 
these translations are concrete and symbolical. It is 
a hallucination visual, auditory, or tactile. The form 
of subliminal messages, to use one of Myers' expressions, 
is always the same, be the fact thus transmitted true or 
false, be it a reminiscence or a premonition. This is 
already a psychological ascertainment of great importance, 
for it puts us on the road we must follow, in order to 
discover the mental process of this psychological pheno- 


menon. But there is something else. The hysteric 
who automatically simulates a drunkard, a general, a 
child, offers us a very different spectacle to the one 
offered us by the sensitive who telepathically sees an 
event happening afar off, or who predicts the future, 
or reveals facts unknown to himself and the assistants. 
There are thousands of examples of these facts ; I have 
given a few which were observed by myself or related 
to me first-hand. 

Is it possible to consider this extraordinary faculty as 
a ' disaggregation ' ? Is it possible to class phenomena 
of this kind v/ith the commonplace phenomena of 
somnambulism and 'incarnation,' the only ones Janet 
has observed ? It sufHces to put the question to receive 
the answer immediately. The psychological mechanism 
of these facts, so unlike one to the other, is probably the 
same, but the cause of the apparent automatism, motor 
or sensory, is certainly not the same. The sensitive, 
of whom I spoke, who sees in the mirror twenty-four 
hours beforehand, the very scenes she actually sees the 
next day, presents to us a phenomenon of considerable 
importance. It intimates that time and space are forms 
of the personal thought and consciousness, but that 
probably they have not the same signification for the 
impersonal consciousness. It is a phenomenon which, if 
it be true, demonstrates experimentally that Kant's theory 
upon the contingency of these ' categories ' necessary to 
all conscious and personal perception is exact. 

I am quite aware of the nature of the reply I shall 
meet with : my observations have been defective ; and 
all those who before me affirmed the existence of the 
same facts were also deceived. This simplifies the 


discussion. The history of science offers us many an 
example of the manner in which facts are received, when 
they contradict current ideas. Kant said more than a 
hundred years ago, in his Traume eines Getstersehers^ i, i.: 
' Das methodische Geschwatz der hohen Schuien ist 
oftmals nur ein Einverstandniss durch veranderliche 
Wortbedeutungen eine schwer zu losenden Frage auszu- 
weichen, weil das bequeme und mehrentheils verniinftige, 
" Ich weiss nicht," auf Akademien nicht leichtHch gehort 

The discussion on Janet recalled to my mind these 
words of Kant's. His expression, m'lsere psychologique is 
one of those words of double meaning, true, if we con- 
sider only a part of the facts and one aspect only of the 
phenomenon, that which concerns the personal con- 
sciousness ; inexact, if we study the facts in their totality 
and the phenomenon they reveal in its generality. The 
being who would be capable of perceiving at a distance, 
by looking into space and into time, would have faculties 
superior to the normal ; he would not be the inferior 
being imagined by Janet. 

An attentive and patient observation will show him, 
I am sure, the reality of the facts which I point out ; 
may he not deny this possibility without putting himself 
under the requisite conditions for observing these facts. 

It belongs to the future to decide the question, and I 
have no doubt whatever upon the nature of the verdict.^ 

To sum up, an attentive observation of the facts 

1 The methodical idle prattle of the high schools is often only an under- 
standing to elude, by words of variable acceptation, a question difficult of 
solution, for we do not often hear in academies such convenient and ordinarily 
intelligent words as ' I do not know.' 

2 See Appendix A. 


shows, that in psychical phenomena we observe the 
emergence of personifications which may be secondary 
personahties, but which in really clear cases present 
particular features, and seem to possess information 
which is inaccessible to the normal personality. They 
may co-exist with the latter, without any disorder 
manifesting itself in the sensitive or motor spheres ; in 
other cases, they encroach upon the normal personality, 
which may either lose the use and sensation of one member, 
or be deprived of several members. Finally, the 
personification can invade the whole of the organism 
and end in incarnation or ' control,' a phenomenon of 
apparent possession. When it reaches this maximum 
development, the personification manifests a remarkable 
autonomy, and appears to be much less suggestible than 
in the intermediate stages of its evolution. 

What are these personifications .? I do not know. 
The problem they raise in some cases is extremely 
difficult to solve. I can only say that they do not 
appear to me to be what they claim to be. Is it 
collective consciousness ^ Is it self-deception ^ Is it 
a spirit .'' Everything is possible, to me nothing is 
certain save one thing, namely, that we must not put 
our trust in them. 

I say this for the benefit of spiritists, who have a 
tendency to believe blindly everything their good spirits 
tell them. These ' spirits ' may make mistakes, though 
they may not wish to deceive you. Never abandon 
yourself or submit the conduct of your life and affairs 
to their guidance : submit only to the rule of reason 
and sound judgment. Be not over-credulous.^ 

1 See Appendix C. 




An account of some recently observed Psychical Phenomena 
produced in the presence of Doctor Maxwell and 
Professor Charles Richet. Arranged by the Translator 
from notes furnished by Dr. Maxwell} 

During the last two years exceptional opportunities 
have been offered Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell 
of observing a medium — whom we will call Meurice — 
who has furnished Dr. Maxwell with many of his most 
important examples of psychical phenomena. I refer to 
phenomena spoken of on pp. 74, 81-2, 101-3, 136-7, 
152-5, 160-2, 195-9, 2oi-2j 250. 

Dr. X. — a friend of Professor Richet — who does not 
wish his name to be mentioned, having been present 
with Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell at some of their 
experiments, has sent Dr. Maxwell a few notes con- 
cerning those seances at which he was present. Dr. 
Maxwell has authorised me to put these notes in order, 
and to add to them a few extracts from letters written by 
Dr. Maxwell to Professor Richet and myself. 

These notes and letters were written either during 

' It is scarcely necessary for me to certify to the accuracy of the phenomena 
mentioned in this chapter, especially when I am spoken of as having been 
present. — Maxwell. 


or immediately after the seances, if I may so call the 
impromptu occasions on which the phenomena to be 
spoken of were obtained. 

There is, in these notes, a miscellaneous stream of 
evidence, the complexity and importance of which may 
be presumed, when it is pointed out that a useful com- 
bination of two orders of research has been at work 
therein. Dr. Maxwell was chiefly interested in the 
study of the facts concomitant with the phenomena, 
whatever they might be, whilst Professor Richet devoted 
himself to the analysis of the personifications, and to the 
study of the manifestations from a purely psychological 
point of view. 

Evidence is the touchstone of truth, and though 
the reading of parts of this chapter may sound more 
like pages out of a fantastic story than the words 
of savants, yet the publication of these facts has been 
judged necessary by Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell, 
in their belief that no one is justified in setting aside 
facts which have been well attested. These facts have 
been observed — let it not be forgotten — in a spirit of 
pure scientific curiosity. 

It is, therefore, hoped that this chapter will receive 
the thoughtful consideration of many ; and that careful 
analysis will be especially given to those very parts, the 
unreal-like romantic nature of which seems to render 
them, at a random glance, unworthy of serious thought. 


An acute analysis of a medium is of primary 
importance in the examination and appreciation of his 


phenomena, therefore we will first of all dwell a little on 
the personality of M. Meurice, the medium in question. 

He is a friend of Dr. Maxwell's — a friend of some 
years' standing. 

He is a slightly built man, the reverse of robust, 
but endowed with remarkable vitality and recuperative 
powers. He is thirty-two years of age ; he is unmarried. 
He is highly sensitive and reserved in disposition, and 
forms quick but lasting sympathies and antipathies. 
He gives one the impression of being always in a state 
of hypertension ; his nervous system is most finely 
strung, and he appears to experience an irresistible need 
of constant physical movement. He passes easily from 
the extremes of joy to the extremes of sadness. Highly 
nervous though he be. Dr. Maxwell has never observed 
any signs of hysteria, or any symptoms of a lack of 
equilibrium in the medium's mentality. He is not 
amenable to the hypnotic sleep, but Dr. Maxwell says 
he has sometimes thought that he might eventually 
succeed in inducing that state. The few attempts so 
far made in this direction have given no results ; more- 
over, M. Meurice does not care to submit himself to 
this kind of experimentation. His cutaneous and other 
sensibilities are normal ; his reflexes also are normal. 

He suffers occasionally from violent headaches and 
neuralgia ; and has frequent gastric attacks, notably after 
the production of telekinetic phenomena. Otherwise his 
health is good. During the production of phenomena, 
M. Meurice often acknowledges to a sinking sensation 
in the epigastric region, and says it is as though some- 
thing material were being drawn out of him at such 


He is well read in every branch of literature, and has 
a most retentive memory. One has the notion that this 
medium, to a great extent, has under his conscious 
control a large range of what is generally submerged 

Subliminal operation is, no doubt, constantly going 
on with us all, but it is most apparent in M. Meurice. 
One feels with him that his unconscious memory is always 
on the alert. 

Amnesia appears to follow rapidly in the footsteps of 
his visions, but several things seem to indicate that this 
amnesia is only apparent.^ 

Dr. Maxwell says he always thought he had a psychic 
in his friend. However, notwithstanding his medical 
studies, and wide range of knowledge of things in 
general, M. Meurice was ignorant of metapsychical 
phenomena, and averse to becoming acquainted with the 
practices of spiritism or anything of that nature. Little 
by little Dr. Maxwell induced his friend to take some 
interest in these phenomena, and one day he persuaded 
him to put his hands on a table with a view to seeing 
whether the two of them together could obtain any 
phenomena. Raps were immediately forthcoming ; they 
resounded on the floor. The medium was startled by 
the unusual noise and quickly rose from the table. 
Nothing more was received on that occasion or for 

^ The amnesia, which appears to follow medianic phenomena, bears a 
certain relation to the amnesia which follows dreams. It is probably due to 
the weakness of the links between the conscious personality and the forgotten 
images. The links exist, but are not strong enough to bind those images to 
the usual stream of personal consciousness. They serve as clues, however, and 
the reappearance of the images at a given moment is due to the working of 
the usual laws of association. — Maxwell. 


some time afterwards. Then, for two years, M. Meurice 
reluctantly and irregularly yielded to Dr. Maxwell's 
persuasions to develop his medianity. 

For some time he could not be made to see the im- 
portance of his phenomena, and Dr. Maxwell refused 
to give weight to his words by appealing to technical 
literature. He was desirous of keeping his friend 
in ignorance of current notions on these phenomena, 
thinking the results would be of greater value if the soil 
they sprang from were virgin. 

M. Meurice has done all in his power to throw light 
upon his own phenomena. His co-operation has been 
precious, for often his fine intelligence and well-trained 
powers of observation have enabled him to bring into 
the research valuable analyses of his sensations and 
impressions. For this medium not only does not lose 
consciousness during the production of his phenomena, 
he is often at such moments more thoroughly * all 
there ' — to use a Scotch expression — than in his unpro- 
ductive moments of abstraction. True, there have been 
a few exceptions, but, as a rule^ he is keenly alive to 
all that is going on when phenomena is forthcoming. 

The passages I have indicated in Dr. Maxwell's work 
will acquaint the reader with the order and degree of 
phenomena presented by M. Meurice, when Professor 
Richet made his acquaintance. Dr. Maxwell had studied, 
almost exclusively, the physical aspect of the facts he 
received, and did not encourage phenomena of an intel- 
lectual order. This scientific attitude, however, had not 
prevented the manifestation of the phenomenon of -per- 
sonification ; and the * raps ' speedily put forth the claims 
common to spiritualistic beliefs — in spite of the medium's 


ignorance of them. When Professor Richet began to 
experiment with M. Meurice, the ' raps ' had already 
claimed to emanate from ' John King,' ' Chappe d'Aute- 
roche,' a group of four entities calling themselves the 
' good fairies,' and, lastly, from two of Dr. Maxwell's 
deceased friends. 

As the capital interest of this chapter lies in the 
intelligent aspect of the phenomena, there is a fact of 
paramount importance to be pointed out with emphasis. 

Our medium is very amenable to influence, and his 
phenomena constantly show the effects of suggestion and 
influence, I do not, by any means, wish to infer that 
M. Meurice is like wax in the hands of his friends ; on 
the contrary, if it were only a question of personal 
consciousness, we might say he is almost impervious 
to the action of extraneous influences. His ways of 
thinking and acting bear the stamp of independence, 
and if he yields occasionally to the wishes of his 
friends, it is out of pure friendship and with delibera- 
tion. When, however, we are endeavouring to make a 
psychological study of a medium, we strive to reach the 
lower strata at once ; the surface is of little interest when 
we know that the secret lies below. Therefore, when 
I say that M. Meurice is most amenable to influence, I 
am bearing in mind that profound region, his general 
consciousness. The personal consciousness may be 
rebellious to influence, but the subliminal is reached by 
subtler means than is its grosser envelope, and is 
remarkably amenable to the charm of suggestion and the 
voice of sympathy. In all probability the reader will 
find sufficient evidence of the accuracy of my assertion 
in the phenomena to be spoken of in the course of this 



chapter ; therefore, I will not dwell any further upon 
this point, although it be an important one. 

When experimenting with Eusapia Paladino, Professor 
Richet had remarked and called attention to the syn- 
chronism which existed between her phenomena and her 
movements or muscular contractions. Dr. Maxwell, in 
his turn, also remarked it, and forthwith bent his studies 
in that direction. The conclusion appears to be evident 
that a profound and far-reaching importance lies in the 
synchronism between the movements of the experimenters 
and the phenomena. It was observed that Dr. Maxwell 
was indeed able to produce phenomena of raps and 
telekinesis [of very feeble intensity, it is true] by tap- 
ping the medium on his hands or shoulder, by firmly 
squeezing the hands, joined in a circle above the table, 
or by the simple contraction of his own muscles. 

En passant, it may be useful to note that Dr. X. was 
opposed to the idea that synchronism always existed 
between the phenomena and the movements of the 
experimenters, that is to say, that muscular contraction 
was alone responsible for the phenomena. Dr. X. was 
so opposed to this notion, that his presence at seances 
where this synchronism was being demonstrated, has 
often been observed to cause all manifestations to cease 
— to nullify the results. If Dr. X. was able to exercise 
this power over one centre, it is highly probable that his 
presence would exercise a like inhibitory influence over 
other centres of energy, where like experiments were 
being conducted. 

Though Dr. Maxwell had obtained not a few 
phenomena showing intelligence {e.g. raps claiming to 
emanate from various personifications), yet, as he says 


In his book, pages 26, 28, and 83, he did not feel 
drawn towards that order of research, and did his best 
to keep the phenomena on physical lines. But since 
Professor Richet has experimented with M. Meurice, the 
phenomena have developed rapidly along the lines of 
intellectuality: a result which may, it is true, be due to 
our medium's good-nature in allowing his power to be 
used as was desired, or which may be the effect of 
influence and suggestion. We are inclined to think 
the latter is nearer the truth, an opinion which is sup- 
ported by the fact that when Dr. X. and Professor 
Richet were present — that is to say, within a few days 
after Dr. X.'s appearance in the circle— synchronous 
phenomena could rarely be obtained.^ 

Now, all unknown to Dr. Maxwell, Professor Richet 
had passed the previous three years in the study of these 
same phenomena from a psychological standpoint, and 
at the moment of his first visit to Bordeaux, he was 
particularly absorbed in the research and analysis of 
intelligent messages received by means of a physical 
phenomenon. His desire, for the time being, was to 
receive messages — of identity or otherwise — by means of 
raps without contact. 

Already familiar with the fact of synchronism — which 
a little experience suffices to show is not due to self- 
suggestion or endosomatic activity — Professor Richet 
wished to get on to fresh ground ; as before said, he 
wanted intellectuality in a physical phenomenon, and it 

^ ' Vous voyez, cher ami, que depuis que nous avons experimente ensemble, 
votre influence peisiste et nos phenomcnes physiques s'oiientent vers les 
messages intellectuels.' — Extract from a letter written by Dr. Maxwell to 
Professor Richet six weeks after the first series of experiments with Professor 
Richet were held. 


was not long before he got what he wanted with the 
medium in question. 

And, a fropos, perhaps I may be allowed to briefly 
relate at once the first phenomenon containing intel- 
ligence, which Professor Richet obtained with M. 
Meurice. A short time after having made his ac- 
quaintance, the professor and Dr. X. thought they 
would try to obtain a ' test.' Supposing, for a moment, 
that an entity, who has several times claimed to be com- 
municating with Professor Richet, really existed, they 
' evoked ' him, and asked him to give them a sign through 
M. Meurice, which would denote that he had been 
listening to a certain conversation held two hours previ- 
ously. The medium and Dr. Maxwell were unaware 
that this entity had a speciality of communicating in 
Latin or Greek. A few hours afterwards, during 
dinner, raps were heard on the table and other furniture 
in the vicinity of M. Meurice ; when the question was 
asked as to who was rapping, the Christian name of the 
entity was given, followed by the word Confide. No word, 
it appears, could have borne more directly upon the con- 
versation in question. There was difficulty in obtaining 
these two words, the raps — in such abundance when not 
requested to * work ' — came laboriously, as though some 
one were picking his steps among brambles, so to speak. 
The medium himself spelt out the alphabet on this 

Dr. Maxwell has given an analysis of the raps obtained 
with M. Meurice, and we especially refer the reader to 
pages 79-82 and 250. 

When raps without contact delay in coming, M. 


Meurice takes a lead-pencil, holds it in his hands, and 
presses one end against the table or on an experimenter 
according to desire ; the raps then resound at the end 
touching the experimenter or the table. 

Anaesthesia is observed only in the hand and arm 
holding the pencil. " Once or twice," says Dr. X., " I 
have observed something like cramp seize the hand and 
arm, and extend along the shoulder blade, to the nape 
of the neck. On these occasions, I saw the whole arm 
vibrate after each rap, like the rebounding of an elastic 
band, and I have sometimes thought it looked as though 
the ' fluid ' passed down the nerves of the arm into the 
pencil, as though it were flowing through a clear open 
channel, until it reached the point of the pencil, when 
a jerk of some kind appeared to force it out on to the 
wood ; not that the pencil or arm moves when the rap 
resounds, but one has the impression of an ////mcr jerk 
of some kind when, in moments of cramp, the rap is 
heard ; this rebounding movement appears to be almost 
simultaneous with the rap. Though the medium keeps 
his personality alive, as a rule^ it seems to me," continues 
Dr. X. (whose opinion is shared by Professor Richet), 
" to undergo a diminution of some kind, on these occa- 
sions ; ideation appears to be slower and more difficult. 
But, because his arm hurt him when this cramp came 
on, we have always begged him to cease ; therefore we 
cannot say whether, the experiment courageously con- 
tinued, complete anaesthesia would eventually set in, 
accompanied by psychical phenomena." 

It is of importance to point out that both Professor 
Richet and Dr. X. (though Dr. Maxwell does not 
altogether share their opinion on this point) are inclined 


to believe that M. Meurice can tell when raps are going 
to be given, when phenomena will be forthcoming 
and when they will not be forthcoming ; a conclusion 
which is drawn from many observations. 

Some of the messages given in this chapter were 
obtained, when out walking with the medium. On 
such occasions, M. Meurice would put his hand on a 
walking-stick or on an umbrella ; he preferred the 
latter. " The raps on the open umbrella are extremely 
curious," writes Dr. X. " We have heard raps on the 
woodwork and on the silk at one and the same time ; It 
is easy to perceive that the shock actually occurs in the 
wood — that the molecules of the latter are set in motion. 
The same thing occurs with the silk ; and here observa- 
tion is even more Interesting still ; each rap looks like a 
drop of some invisible liquid falling on the silk from a 
respectable height. The stretched silk of the umbrella 
is quickly and slightly but surely dented in ; sometimes 
the force with which the raps are given is such as to 
shake the umbrella. Nothing is more absorbing than 
the observation of an apparent conversation— by means 
of the umbrella — between the medium's personifications. 
Raps, imitating a burst of laughter in response to the 
observer's remarks, resound on the silk like the rapid 
play of strong but tiny fingers. When raps on the 
umbrella are forthcoming, M. Meurice either holds the 
handle of the umbrella, or some one else does, whilst he 
simply touches the handle very lightly with his open 
palm. He never touches the silk. 

" Raps without contact appear to require more force, 
and are not so frequently forthcoming, as raps with 
contact — which seem to be always at the medium's 


command ; consequently — and particularly as the tenor 
of the messages received constituted the chief interest 
for the time being — the use of the pencil or umbrella 
has been encouraged." 

All the messages given in this chapter, except where 
the contrary is expressly stated, have been received by 
contact with a pencil or umbrella — with what Chappe, 
the chief personification, calls his telephone. 

A marked trait in the phenomena is their spontaneity. 
Months will pass away without the production of a 
single phenomenon worth mentioning — raps through the 
pencil can generally be obtained, however. After the 
attraction of the fan (pages 357-8), nine months 
elapsed before another telekinetic phenomenon oc- 
curred. At other times, the energy is so abundant that 
while it lasts, that is to say for two or three weeks, 
the medium may truly be said to live in a world 
of phenomena in more senses than one ; for, at 
such periods, phenomena are constantly forthcoming. 
Regular seances are not of much avail with M. Meurice ; 
it is better not to seek, but to know how to receive, 
which means to know how to wait patiently and 

A brief analysis of the personifications is necessary 
before laying bare their work. The first to manifest 
was ' John King.' Subliminal labour is very transparent 
herein. M. Meurice had heard not a little of Eusapia 
Paladino's secondary personality, which calls itself ' John 

Then the raps announced the presence of a group of 
four entities calling themselves the ' fairies ' — les bonnes 


fees. In fact, the latter were the first to make their 
presence felt by M. Meurice, though John King was 
the first to manipulate the raps. The fairies gave the 
names of Miriam, Yolande, Liliane, and Brigitte ; the 
latter remained but a short time ; she said she had to 
go away somewhere ; she was replaced by ' Wicki,' who 
claims to be an ancestor of Dr. Maxwell's, and to have 
lived in Ireland during the fifteenth century. The 
medium associates the odour of jasmine with the fairies. 
Perhaps the following may suggest a clue to the origin 
of these entities : — 

Some years ago, before Dr. Maxwell had commenced 
experimenting with his friend, he was in the habit of 
bidding him good-bye with the words, ' ^e les tres bonnes 
vous protegent.' When the fairies — les bonnes fees — 
appeared, they at once claimed to have been the means 
of bringing about the meeting of Dr. Maxwell with 
M. Meurice, and of having fostered their friendship. 
As for the odour of jasmine : on one occasion, soon 
after experimentation had begun, the medium was 
talking to the doctor about good influences ; and he 
remarked that he sometimes perceived the odour of 
jasmine without being able to explain it normally. The 
next time the doctor saw his friend, the raps dictated 
that the odour of jasmine was the signal of the presence 
of the good fairies. 

The next personification to manifest was said to be 
S., a very dear friend of Dr. Maxwell's (see pages 
1 60-1). The genesis of this personification is easy to 
follow. S. was one of the leading men in Bordeaux, 
where he occupied a very prominent position ; he was 
extremely well known — though M. Meurice did not 


know him, and says he never saw him. M. Meurice 
witnessed Dr. Maxwell's grief when S. died, and heard 
the former say that he had been very fond of S. I 
again refer the reader to pages 160-1 for further con- 
sideration of the S. personification. 

For a few months, the phenomena claimed to emanate 
chiefly from the fairies — John King gradually fading 
away. Then ' Chappe d'Auteroche ' came on the scene, 
and has ever since kept the field pretty much to himself, 
— though he permits of the presence of the personalities 
already mentioned and a few others if introduced by him. 
His first appearance took the form of a vision in the 
crystal. The medium saw him in a foreign land, amidst 
large red flowers, savage tribes and queer-looking boats 
on canals ; he gave his name, the exact day, month 
and year of his death, and the cause of his death ; he 
described what his work on earth had been — all things 
which M. Meurice did not consciously know. Every- 
thing, which was verifiable, was found to be correct. 

Some time after this, Chappe gave a long and 
coherent message by means of tilts of a table without 
contact — in daylight ; on this occasion, he gave his 
Christian name as ' Adhemar,' which is, probably, an 
error, as biographies do not mention it. 

Chappe is, doubtless, a subliminal entity ; but his 
evolution is more difficult to explain than any of the 
medium's other personifications. Perhaps M. Meurice 
— an avide reader — has come across some articles in 
periodicals, concerning the measurements of the solar 
parallax, by means of the crossing of the sun's surface 
by the disc of the planet Venus. Chappe was one of 
the best-known observers ; he went to Siberia in 1761, 


and to California in 1769, to observe those passages. 
His name must certainly have been mentioned in the 
newspapers, when the last crossings took place — that is 
in 1874 and 1882. But on these occasions, M. Meurice 
was only three and eleven years old ! Has he seen the 
biographical notice of Chappe in l^arousse's dictionary ? 
He has no conscious recollection of having read this, nor 
does he remember ever having heard of Chappe the 
astronomer. And there, for the present, the matter 
must stand. 

Another personification — H. B. — made its irruption 
towards the end of 1903. M, Meurice was certainly 
aware of Dr. Maxwell's profound esteem and affection 
for H. B. ; but for further consideration of this personi- 
fication, we refer the reader to Dr. Maxwell's notes 
thereon, pages 287 and following. 

I perceive I am about to end these remarks on the 
medium and his phenomena without having said a word 
upon a vital point, one which many specialists would 
require to be satisfactorily settled before consenting to 
listen to an account of the phenomena. I mean the 
medium's honesty. Professor Richet, Dr. Maxwell, and 
Dr. X. say that, for diverse reasons, they cannot doubt 
this particular medium's honourability. As for raps and 
telekinetic phenomena, there can be no shadow of doubt 
about their genuineness ; the excellent conditions of light, 
sight and touch which always prevail when his pheno- 
mena are forthcoming, joined to the intelligent co-opera- 
tion of M. Meurice, who is as much interested in and 
capable of examining his own phenomena as are the 
observers, put mystification out of the question. 


Is there any evidence of identity, of survival, of 
intelligent forces other than human, in this chapter ? 
Each one will answer this question after his own manner 
of thinking. Some will say ' No.' If we could forget 
the extraordinary romance at the end of this chapter — 
Series C — we too might answer categorically ' No.' 
Though we have given all the leading details of the case, 
family reasons have necessitated the omission of much 
valuable material in this ' romance,' and perhaps readers 
will not see so much in it as those who watched its 
development. But even as it stands, it presents some 
baffling difficulties. It really seems to indicate that 
there is activity in the metethereal environment, and 
that the spirit can act in that environment. What 
matter, therefore, if it be the spirit of the living or of 
the dead ? If one can demonstrate its independence of 
the body, why not the other ? 



It may be useful to give one or two of our medium's 
visions. If these simple phenomena — where so much of 
the personal consciousness seems at play — be studied, 
some idea may be gained of how far, if at all, the sub- 
liminal is responsible for the production of this particular 
medium's more intricate phenomena, such as intelligent 
messages given by means of raps without contact. 

M. Meurice was once visiting Paris. He dined at 
my house on the evening of his arrival. This was the 


first time I met him. During dinner, an hour or so 
after his arrival, the medium said he saw a vision near 
me, and described a personage ' dressed in white and 
gold-embroidered robes, who looks like a priest of 
ancient times.' The only interest in this is that it 
corroborates what two other sensitives, unknown to our 
medium and to each other, have on two different 
occasions told me. 

M. Meurice also claimed to recognise in me and 
this bedecked personage, two persons who figured in a 
dream-vision he had had, three years previous to meeting 
me. We give this dream chiefly for the sake of its rich 

The medium wrote an account of the dream at the 
time, at Dr. Maxwell's request, the latter being struck 
by its oddity. Here is the vision : — 

" I dreamt I was sleeping in a bed, the framework 
of which nearly touched the ground ; the bed was raised 
on a kind of platform. I was in a large hall, which 
looked like a church. Suddenly a tall, fair woman, 
dressed in black, entered. A man wearing long, white, 
ancient-looking garments, embroidered all over in gold, 
followed her. Then Dr. Maxwell entered. The man in 
white read aloud out of the book, which the fair woman 
held open before him. I was suddenly overcome 
with emotion. I wept, and wept, and wept. My 
tears caused the flowers embroidered on the counterpane 
to spring into life ; they grew and multiplied with 
amazing rapidity, completely covering the bed and, 
finally, burying me beneath their abundance and 
weight. The fair woman then said : ' We must seek 
for him,' and set to work to remove the flowers. 


During this operation, Dr. Maxwell stepped on my 
body ; I screamed with pain and awoke." 

When M. Meurice awoke, he was suffering from 
colic ; this fact may explain parts of the vision. 

One day in December 1903, at the close of a seance 
when some fine raps at a distance had been obtained, 
M. Meurice wrote a few German words. He does not 
know German. At the same time he saw, in the crystal, 
the words : ' Kolbe, chimiste, mort a Leipzig 1730.' A 
few hours after this seance, the medium had a vision of 
the personification Chappe, who said, ' Vous ne savez 
done lire.'' C'est "mort a Leipzig le 25 Novembre 
1884," et pas " 1730.'" 

Kolbe the chemist died at Leipzig on the 25th of 
November 1884. This information is to be found in 
Larousse's dictionary. 

The following is an experiment in the transmission of 
thought which Dr. Maxwell tried with the medium : — 

" I gave my hand to M. Meurice, to hold, and said to 
him — we had been talking, in a vague, general manner 
of the plurality of existences — ' Try and see how I died 
in my previous existence.' 

" Unknown to the medium, I wrote down on paper the 
words :■ — Fall from a horse ! 

" M. Meurice answered : ' I see your life, then you 
fade away into nothingness ; you die from an accident ; 
a carriage — no, a horse accident. I see you wearing a 
shield. You fall from your horse, he crushes you to 
death.' " 


The medium very often sees the same vision repeat 
itself in the crystal. This is the vision of a procession 
of individuals clothed in flowing robes ; they follow a 
long narrow path, which loses itself in a tunnel, into 
which the procession passes. The vision never varies, 
save that at times after the procession has disappeared 
into the tunnel, the path seems to be strewn with the 
bones of skeletons. 

This vision has also been seen, in the same crystal, 
by our medium's youngest sister, a girl of twenty, who 
is absolutely ignorant of spiritistic phenomena. She 
attributed her vision to an optical illusion. 

It has been observed with M. Meurice that the last 
vision sometimes precedes veridical hallucinations. 

This and other facts would lead one to think that 
very probably, for a medium, there is no test which can 
discriminate between falsidical and veridical hallucina- 
tions. The psychological process appears to be the 
same, viz. dramatisation and concrete images, instead 
of abstract concepts or ideas. 

Mediums, as a rule, possess parasitic personalities 
which act in the same way as the normal personality ; 
this feature of hallucinatory phenomena is difficult to 
analyse, and introduces into the problem a number of 
unknown factors. 

In the case of the medium in question, the secondary 
personalities are weak. They are always felt and objec- 
tived by the normal personality, which is never expelled 
from the scene — a circumstance which is precious for the 
observer as the visions are sometimes vivid to a degree. 


With M. Meurice the unknown factors, though existing, 
are reduced to a sort of minimum, and the psychological 
analysis is perhaps less difficult than in the generality of 
cases. In this fact lies the value of his intellectual 
phenomena, though it is a drawback indeed from another 
point of view, the persistency of the normal conscious- 
ness, of the normal will, and even of the normal powers 
of attention, being probably the cause of the impurities 
which so frequently stain his intellectual phenomena. 


By Dr. Maxwell 

" H. B. died at a very advanced age. He was a man 
of great kindness of heart, and of deep intelligence. He 
had received a solid, classical education. He was born 
in a foreign country, went, when a young man, to a 
North American state, where he lived for some time. 
He married, and finally came to Bordeaux — a town to 
which his wife and all her family belonged. H. B. lived 
for many years at Bordeaux ; but during the last six 
years of his life he was paralysed. He died at a time 
when the medium was twenty years of age, and was 
pursuing his studies in a hospital at Bordeaux. H. B. 
lived a very retired life, confined to the house because of 
his infirmity. 

" There is every probability that M. Meurice had 
never heard of H. B. Although I had known my friend 
for some time before the irruption of this personification, 
I had been extremely careful to avoid giving him the 
slightest detail concerning H. B. He had, however, 


heard me say that H. B. had been one of my dearest 

*' I had been experimenting for about two years 
with M. Meurice, when the personification H. B. 
first manifested. His emergence took place on the 
2nd October 1903, in the form of a vision, which my 
friend had as he was going to bed. On the following 
day — during a dark seance we were holding in the hopes 
of obtaining luminous phenomena — M. Meurice described 
his vision of the previous night. His description vividly 
recalled H. B. to my mind. I was careful to say nothing, 
however. During the seance, the personification Chappe 
signified his presence by means of abundant and loud 
raps ; at the same time M. Meurice told me he saw a 
face, and certain letters written above it ; these letters 
formed a name, which indicated to me the presence of 
H. B. Thereupon I asked M. Meurice to give me the 
Christian and surnames of the vision he claimed to be 
looking at ; in reply, the surname was instantly spelt out 
by raps without contact ; the Christian name was given 
in French first of all, then it was correctly given in 
H. B.'s maternal tongue.-' 

" H. B.'s first appearances occurred in M. Meurice's 
bedroom. From the indications given, I said I had 
quickly recognised H. B. Unfortunately, under the 

1 H. B.'s Christian name finds its equivalent in French in the name which 
had been ' rapped out ' in the first instance. Dr. Maxwell explained this fact 
to the rapping force, whereupon the name was correctly given. 

This detail of the Christian and surnames is not demonstrative as identity, 
because (i) the remarks made by Dr. Maxwell were sufficient to have 'fixed' 
any one who had the slightest knowledge of the language in question ; (2) 
because the medium already knew the surname of Dr. Maxwell's friend. We 
must not forget, however, that the raps were given without contact. — Note by 
the Translator, 


necessity in which 1 find myself placed of not bringing 
H. B.'s family into view, I am unable to mention the 
principal details. May it suffice to say that I recognised 
H. B. I may also add that the description of the 
hair, eyes, beard, stature were exactly and unhesitatingly 

"I may also mention one important detail : M. Meurice 
described the vision he saw as being seated in an arm- 
chair with a blue plaid shawl — with a long fringe — 
wrapped about his legs. I did not recognise the chair — 
though I well remember the chair in which H. B. passed 
the last six years of his life — but the shawl was absolutely 
correctly described. This is a detail which, I affirm, 
M. Meurice could not possibly have known ; and I 
consider it highly improbable that fraud could have 
found it out. 

" So much for the first appearance of this personifica- 

*'The visions continued. M. Meurice saw H. B. at 
difi^erent periods of his existence, at times infirm, at 
other times younger and standing upright. When he 
appeared young, he wore his beard in a certain fashion ; 
when he appeared aged, he wore his beard differently ; 
these details were correct. 

" The vision at first did not speak, and simply looked 
kindly at him, said M. Meurice. 

" The hallucination used to build itself up in the follow- 
ing manner : the medium saw a bluish cloud floating 
about near a particular armchair in his bedroom ; the 
cloud or shadow remained ill defined, * as though several 
veils were being successively removed ' ; and only one 
feature at a time — at a vision — seemed to be distinctly 



shown, e.g. at one time, the eyes were well shown, the 
rest of the vision being very indistinct ; at another time, 
the nose was the prominent feature, or the mouth, the 
hair or the beard, etc. ; as though the personification 
wished to impress one thing at a time upon the medium's 

"Finally on the 6th October 1903, in a short journey 
which M. Meurice made one day to Arcachon, H. B. 
appeared to him in broad daylight, in an avenue of the 
forest through which the medium was driving, 

" M. Meurice saw, on the roadway a short distance 
ahead, a person walking very slowly and pecuHarly : ' he 
limped as though the right leg was shorter than the left.' 
He was a stout man with a round, clean-shaven face. 
He had a peculiar mark near one of his eyes. He was 
wearing a tall straw hat, a high collar, the ends rising and 
meeting in points under the chin, a yellowish walking- 
stick, the handle of which was made of ivory and fastened 
to the stick by a silver band ; the personage was reading 
a newspaper, the title of which was in Gothic lettering 
' like the Matin.'' He was wearing a thick gold chain 
and trinkets. M. Meurice thought he was looking 
upon a real individual, and it was not until the carriage 
had driven past, and my friend saw the supposed man 
suddenly disappear, leaving but a ' whitish blur on the 
ground,' that he recognised H. B. and the hallucinatory 
character of his perception. 

" I saw M. Meurice about five hours after he had had 
this vision, when he gave me the above details ; I recog- 
nised the following as being correct : — 

" I. The walk, 

"2. A peculiar mark near one of the eyes. 


^' 3. The newspaper; H. B. took in the Temps^ the title 
of which is in Gothic lettering like the Matin. 

" 4. The walking-stick, every detail being exact. 

'* 5. The description of the collar was correct. 

" 6. H. B. used to wear a straw hat. 

"7. * A stout man with a round, clean-shaven face ' 
applies to H. B. before his infirmity made an invalid of 

''The watch-chain and trinkets were imaginary. 

" A few remarks about details i and 2 : H. B. had twice 
broken his right leg ; the right leg was, as a result of 
these two accidents, shorter than the left leg. He had 
therefore a very peculiar and characteristic walk. When 
M. Meurice was relating the above vision to me, he 
imitated the walk to perfection. Let it be remembered 
that H. B. had not walked a step for six years previous 
to his death ; when he was attacked by paralysis, 
M. Meurice was but fourteen years of age, and was not 
then living in Bordeaux. 

"2. H. B. had a small and peculiar skin mark 
near his left eye. Now, when M. Meurice related his 
vision, I told him that he had not localised this mark 
accurately enough. Thereupon, raps resounded simul- 
taneously on his chair, on the floor, and on a table 
standing a foot away from M. Meurice and myself ; 
while these raps were resounding M. Meurice said he 
saw H. B., and remarked that he was pointing to the 
sign in question. M. Meurice then correctly localised 
the mark. 

" Further, I told M. Meurice that he had made a mis- 
take when speaking of a gold watch-chain and trinkets. 
The next vision my friend had of H. B., the latter 


showed himself with a black silk ribbon attached to his 
watch ; this, I recognised as correct. H. B. always wore 
a black silk ribbon for a watch-chain.^ 

"In subsequent visions, H. B. showed the medium 
successively certain correct details in his costume, 
notably : — 

*' 1. Cravats, dark blue with white spots. 

" 2. Shoes of a peculiar make, without heels and with 
elastic sides. 

" 3. White stockings. 

" M. Meurice tells me he feels that H. B. very often 
tries to make himself visible to him ; when he fails to do 
so, he hears him say impatiently : * Thut ! thut ! thut ! ' 
— a curious coincidence, for this was a most characteristic 
habit of H. B.'s when impatient. 

" From that time the personification H. B. has con- 
tinued to mingle actively in our medium's life. His 
intervention is manifested daily. It would be impossible 
to give a full account of this personification's manifesta- 
tions ; I will simply confine myself to indicating the 
principal. It is to be pointed out, first of all, that 
H. B. appears literally to 'haunt' M. Meurice's house, 
especially the room above the latter's bedroom." 

" The phenomena are of several kinds : — 

" A. Sonorous phenomena. 

1 M. Meurice was aware of the fact that H. B. had bequeathed many 
thhigs to Dr. Maxwell. He knew, for example, that the latter wears a watch 
which was given him by H. B. And as Dr. Maxwell also wears, attached 
to his watch, a gold chain and trinkets, normal mental activity might here 
have been at work. — Note by the Translator. 

2 M. Meurice's house bore the reputation of being haunted before he took 
it. He was unaware of this, until the neighbours told him of it some months 
after he was settled in the house. — Note by the Translator. 


" I. Footsteps. 

" («) A loud, quick, decided footstep, which M. 
Meurice attributes to the personification 
" (b) An unequal step, as though one leg rested 
more heavily than the other ; the imitation 
which M. Meurice made before me of this 
step recalled to my mind H. B.'s step. 
" (c) A slow step as of a person who dragged his 
feet along : a movement attributed by M. 
Meurice to, and which I recognised as charac- 
teristic of, one of my deceased friends.^ 
" (d) A quick, light step, like the step of a big bird. 
" These footsteps are heard in the corridor of 
the second story of the house ; a story which is not 
inhabited. Then the door of a bedroom, immediately 
above M. Meurice's bedroom, seems to open and the 
footsteps resound in the room. M. Meurice has often 
got up — these noises occur at about two o'clock in the 
early morning — but he has never seen anything or any 

" The same noises are also heard in M. Meurice's own 

*' 2. The opening of doors and windows. 
" Before hearing footsteps in the bedroom on the second 
floor, M. Meurice hears the door of that room open. 
The noise of the opening of the door is always preceded 
by a noise similar to that made by a hand searching in 
the dark for the door handle. 

" M. Meurice hears the same sounds on his bedroom 
door. There are three doors to M. Meurice's bedroom : 

1 See page i6o. 


one leads into a dressing-room, one into a clothes-room, 
the third into a study ; it is at this third door that 
the above-mentioned phenomena occur. 

" Sometimes M. Meurice hears the window of his 
own bedroom, as well as that of the room upstairs, 
open and shut. He has got up repeatedly, and gone 
upstairs to see what was happening, but has always found 
the door closed, which he fancied he had heard being 
opened. Whenever, on returning to his bedroom, he 
left the door of the room upstairs open, the noise of 
footsteps would begin again as soon as he had left, but 
without the sound of the opening and shutting of the 
bedroom door. 

"3. Noises as of furniture being moved about. The 
medium hears the chairs and tables of the room above 
him move about ; his faculties of observation are well 
developed, and he believes he recognises : — 

" (c?) Accompanying the noise of the displacement of 

chairs and tables, Chappe's footstep. 
" (J)) H. B.'s footsteps, on the contrary, are accom- 
panied by the noise a heavy person might 
make when sitting on a bed. The medium 
hears the mattress creaking. 
" (c) Lastly, he hears a noise similar to what would 
be produced by a person lying back in an 
"4. Noises of material objects other than furniture : 
these noises are like : — 

" (rt) A bag of corn or nuts emptied on to the floor 

of the bedroom upstairs. 
" (/>) Something hard striking the floor : these sounds 
are given rhythmically upon request. 


" (c) Wings beating the air. M. Meurice compares 
these sounds to the flapping of the wings of 
a turkey. 
" (<^) The rubbing of paper. 

" 5. Diverse human noises : — 
''{a) Sighs. 
" {i?) Heavy breathing. 

"Are these sonorous phenomena subjective ? I have 
never been in the house at the hour, when these 
sounds are said to be heard ; and the noises I have 
heard from time to time are not sufficiently pronounced 
for me to be able to form any conclusion. I have assured 
myself that no water-pipes exist in the upper stories of 
the house ; the latter is isolated, but any loud noises 
made in a neighbouring house can be heard in M. 
Meurice's house. 

" No one sleeps in the second story. A domestic, who 
occupies a room on the same floor as M. Meurice, has 
heard the noise of footsteps, and has often got up out 
of bed and gone upstairs to see who was moving about. 
Never finding any one, the domestic attributes these 
sounds to rats : an insufficient explanation. Moreover, 
a close examination of the house, repeated on several 
occasions, has revealed to me no signs of rats. 

"A sister of M. Meurice's frequently pays him visits; 
she then occupies a room on the same floor as her brother. 
On three different occasions she has been awakened out 
of sleep by sounds of footsteps, and a fumbling noise on 
the door of her room, as though some one were feeling 
for the handle. She has got up, gone into her brother's 
room, thinking it was he, searched about the house, but 
has never seen anything which could explain the noises, 


neither has she heard the noises while thus moving 
about. ^ 

^ Among Dr. Maxwell's notes is the following account, written to Professor 
Richet, of a seance at which the doctor was present; and of some subsequent 
phenomena which he did 7iot witness, but which the reader may consider 
interesting, nevertheless : — 

19th March 1904. — 'Yesterday afternoon I obtained some automatic 
writing with our medium. Chappe and H. B. were said to be communi- 
cating, and giving me their views about the war. We then used the com- 
modious Chappe telephone — my stylograph on this occasion. The raps 
were excellent. The weather was good, fairly cold, but diy. When the 
last word of a message was being spelt out, Meurice suddenly threw away 
the pen and broke up the seance, without going through the usual formalities 
of good-bye. He rose up from his seat, complained of feeling dizzy, and 
fainted. He quickly came to, however, and when I left him he appeared quite 
well again. But soon after I had left the house, he went into his sister's room, 
and again fainted. 

' Now, I had often told him not to break off the communications so 
abruptly. I think the fatigue he sometimes experiences after phenomena — 
fatigue often out of all proportion with them — is due to his brusquerie. On 
this occasion I am sure there was some link between him and the table on 
which the rapping occurred. Unfortunately, friendship mastered science, and 
I rose up instantly to look after my friend, without stopping to ascertain 
if there were any trace of exteriorised sensibility in the table. It is very pro- 
bable that such was the case, because I repeatedly assured myself, during the 
course of the seance, that there was absolutely no sensibility whatever in the 
hand which was holding the stylograph — the rapping implement. 

' During the seance Chappe had dictated that his medium was going to 
give "displacements of objects," and he bade him take heed thereof. 
M. Meurice's house is, this week, filled with visitors — his sister and her 
children among others. For want of room, he has taken his young nephew, 
a child of seven years old, into his room to sleep with him. Now, last night 
he was awakened towards midnight by his bed moving about. His sister, 
sleeping in the next room, also heard these noises ; thinking her brother 
was ill, she got up and went into his room. She saw a curious sight: the 
bed was gliding, of its own accord, towards the window ! She sat down on 
a sofa and watched ; the room was lighted up by the light of one candle. 
The bed moved up to a table near the window, i.e. a distance of three feet ; 
the carpet was not disturbed. The bed returned slowly to its former position. 
The child did not awaken. The sister is not aware of her brother's powers ; 
if she were told, she would probably be much distressed, as she puts all such 
phenomena a priori down to charlatanry or to superstition. She was alarmed 


" She has also heard the flapping of birds' wings, in 
the daytime, in different parts of the house. 

"5. Phenomena of touch. 

" M. Meurice sometimes feels a hand gently stroke 
him on the head. On one occasion, when he was suff"ering 
from a violent headache, he felt a hand move about on 
his head and forehead ; the pain went away, and he fell 

*' C. Visual phenomena. 

" Sonorous and tactile phenomena nearly always precede 
an apparition, which is generally that of H. B., either 
alone or with the Chappe personification. 

" The following are a few examples of the visions 
relating to H. B. : — 

" I. On the 31st October 1903 M. Meurice returned 
home from a visit to the neighbouring village — 
Arcachon, the same village, near which H. B. had ap- 
peared to him (p. 290). When he entered his bedroom, 
he perceived H. B. seated in a chair, holding on his arm 
a mortuary wreath made of black beads. 

" On the morrow — All Souls' Day — M. Meurice related 
this vision to me. I was surprised — but concealed my 
surprise ; for, as a matter of fact, I did not understand 
what a wreath of black beads could mean. At certain 
epochs I am in the habit of laying a wreath on H. B.'s 
tomb, but it is always composed of what were his 
favourite flowers. M. Meurice began to write auto- 
matically ; he wrote : ' Bring me what you are in the 

at the manifestation, ascribed the movements to "ghosts," and firmly believes 
that the house is haunted.' (This sister does not live in Bordeaux, and has 
never been told of the reputation the house enjoyed before her brother took 
possession of it.) 


habit of bringing me ; the other wreath was for T. 
Bring him one too, for his family have almost forgotten 
him.' (I understood T. to be the initial letter of a great 
friend of H. B.'s.) My surprise did not diminish, 
because I know for a fact that T.'s family cherish his 
memory profoundly. 

"However, following my usual custom, I treated the 
personification H. B. as he desired to be treated and 
executed his commission. I then made the following 
discovery : T. is buried in a vault over which lies 
a sort of platform. The vault belongs to his own 
family and the family of a near relation. There were 
fresh flowers on the side of the vault belonging to his 
relations ; there were none on the side reserved for his 

" I believe this circumstance, as well as the friendship 
which existed between H. B. and T., was unknown to 
M. Meurice ; but I am obliged to admit that my belief 
rests upon no proof. 

" Let me add, in order to finish at once with the T. 
incident, that, on the eve of my visit to T.'s tomb, I 
had asked M. Meurice to give me the Christian and 
surnames of the person about whom H. B. was supposed 
to be talking. The surname was given ; a curious 
mistake was made before the Christian name was correctly 
given : the name of T.'s son was given, and then came 
T.'s own name. These indications were obtained in 
broad daylight, by means of raps without direct contact. 
The raps resounded upon a table on which I had placed 
a shawl, one corner of which was held by M. Meurice. 

" 2. A few days afterwards a seance was held in M. 
Meurice's bedroom. A portable cabinet had been used. 


which M. Meurlce had not taken the trouble to remove 
before going to bed. During the night he was awakened 
by taps on the head ; he heard diverse noises, and saw 
the door of the cabinet open. H. B. appeared, lean- 
ing on two of the ' fairies ' ; the two other ' fairies ' 
followed. These personages presented the appearance 
of living people, said M. Meurice the next day when 
describing the vision to me. They rolled an armchair 
into the middle of the room ; H. B. sat down in it ; 
the fairies placed a shawl over his knees, and two of them 
sat down on the arms of his chair ; the other two sat 
down on chairs. H. B. spoke about my health, and 
then bade M. Meurice tell me that I would be able 
to find all necessary documents on the history of 
religions in my cousin Y.'s library. The Christian 
names were correctly given, the surname approximately; 
but the approximation was such (the initial letter of the 
name being the only incorrect one) that I had no difficulty 
in recognising the name. 

" It is exact that my cousin Y. possesses documents on 
the history of religions. M. Meurice knew that the 
question interested me ; but it is extremely improbable, 
that he should have known of the existence of my cousin 
Y., who lives in the strictest seclusion ; it is still more 
improbable, that he should have known the contents of 
his library. I cannot, however, affirm these two points, 
but I can at least affirm that M. Meurice does not know 
my cousin Y. 

" The personification H. B. shows a spirit of fatherly 
protection towards M. Meurice ; for example : — 

" The medium was once out driving ; a rather serious 
accident happened, in which his carriage was caught 


between a cart and a tram ; the coachman was thrown 
from his seat and wounded. As the tram struck the 
carriage, M. Meurice felt himself seized by the arms, 
and carried out of the carriage on to the footpath by 
H. B.^ 

" The air of protection which this personification 
assumes is never absent ; it is difficult, M. Meurice says, 
to convey an idea of the strange, fantastic impression 

^ The reader may care to see Dr. Maxwell's detailed report to Professor 
Richet of the above incident : — 

' On Sunday morning Meurice was out driving. A short distance from 
Bordeaux his carriage collided with a milk-cart ; the shafts of the latter 
crashed through one of the carriage windows. At the same time an electric 
tram, unable to pull up in time, struck the carriage in the rear. The coach- 
man was thrown from his seat on to the ground, where he lay unconscious. 
He was wounded near the left eye, . . . his face was covered with blood. 

' At the moment the collision with the tram took place, Meurice quickly 
opened the carriage door with the natural intention of jumping out ; but he 
felt himself suddenly lifted up and carried on to the footpath, a distance of ten 
feet. He saw no one. 

'He probably jumped ot his own accord, and the sensation he experienced 
was but the symbolical expression of the solicitude the personifications show 
for him. The protector was supposed to be H. B. 

'Now, on Saturday afternoon, the eve of the day on which the above 
accident occurred, I had a seance with my friend. We tried for luminous 
phenomena, but the experiment was null. Towards the close of the seance, 
Meurice said he saw the face of a dead man, with a wound on the left 
temple, the face was covered with blood. I asked who it was, and received 
by raps without contact : " Suicide, victime d'amour, Gaston " ; the raps 
refused to give the surname. The aspect of the coachman's face after the 
accident the next morning somewhat recalls the aspect of the vision ; if we 
accept this, there is a curious mixture of true and false, the false showing 
forth when our personal activity intervenes in order to question : a fact which 
1 have often observed. 

' The accident occurred between ten and a quarter past ten o'clock. My 
friend's youngest sister — a young girl of twenty — is paying him a visit this 
week. Now, this Sunday morning she went into the kitchen at ten o'clock, 
looking very distressed, and said to the servants that she felt sure an accident 
had happened to her brother. The sister's and servants' versions concorded 
absolutely when questioned a few hours later on this coincidence.' 


which he feels, in presence of the frequent intervention 
of H. B., and other personifications. 

" This impression is the less easily understood, in so 
much as M. Meurice is not a spiritualist, and has received 
a scientific education. He refuses to accept the explana- 
tions which the personifications offer of themselves : they 
claim to be human beings who have once lived on earth. 
Up to the present they have never pretended to give us 
any information touching the life beyond the tomb ; the 
indications they have given rather tend to direct our 
experiments, and to try to formulate premonitions. 
H. B, seems to have given himself the task, chiefly, 
of establishing his identity ; this desire appears to be 
his leading — I scarcely dare to say generating — idea. 
And we are obliged to admit that from this point of 
view he has given some curious details. These facts con- 
stitute the intellectual phenomena, which are the dominant 
ones in the H. B. personification, although raps and 
movements without contact are also said to emanate from 
him sometimes. 

"I have given some examples of psycho-sensorial 
messages in the visions which I have described. These 
are far from being the most interesting. H. B. 
manifests also by automatic writing, and has given some 
messages of a highly interesting character in this manner. 
I cite the following as being the most characteristic : — 

" On the 27th of November 1903, towards the close of 
a seance, I mentally asked H, B. where I happened to be, 
when he was laid up with a certain serious illness. The 
medium wrote : ' You were a young magistrate at Blaye, 
near Bordeaux.' M. Meurice knows what my career 
has been, but it is extremely improbable, he should have 


known about the illness — much less the time of the 
illness — of which I was thinking. At all events, the 
reply given to my mental question was correct. Neither 
the conversation nor previous facts could have given 
the slightest clue to my question. On another occasion, 
automatic writing made an extremely characteristic 
allusion to one of H. B.'s most inveterate habits : a glass 
of brandy and water every afternoon at half-past five, 

" Finally, on the occasion of the death of the last 
surviving member of his family, H. B. on the 5th of 
October 1904 wrote: 'Poor L,, no one is left now. 
It is a consolation for you to feel me near you. . . . Very 
often those left behind cannot see us.' {Pauvre L., i/ ne 
reste plus personne maintenant^ cest line consolation pour 
vous de me sentir pres de vous. Souvent les survivants ne 
peuvent pas nous voir.) 

" This message was interesting because the last relative 
to die was not L. but C. L. died before C. ; but L. had 
been H. B.'s favourite brother. It is quite correct that 
no one was left of H. B.'s generation after C.'s death." 

" At this same seance, H. B. mentioned a very private 

1 The following is Dr. Maxwell's detailed report of this incident as con- 
tained in a letter to Professor Richet : — 

* . . . There was nothing we might say but twaddle in the writing which 
followed, e.g. expressions of pleasure on the part of H. B. in that he was able 
to communicate with me, his long efforts to reach me, etc., when suddenly, at 
5.30, without any rhyme or reason, so to say, our medium wrote (always 
under the influence of the H. B. personification) : " Offer me some brandy 
and water. . . ." Now, during fifty years H. B. had not been known to miss 
taking a glass of brandy and water every afternoon at half-past five. He was 
not in the habit of taking this concoction at other hours of the day; so that 
the coincidence is, to say the least, striking and curious. . . .' 

2 Neither L. nor C. have ever lived in Bordeaux. In fact H, B. was the 
only member of his family to leave his native land. 


detail in connection with L. This fact, which raisons de 
convenance prevent me from fully relating, defines the 
nature of the intercourse which had existed between 
H. B. and his brother L. The circumstances which 
the writing recalled were known only to H, B. and a 
few near relations. 

" I am fully aware that the above details have no 
demonstrative value, for I knew them all, and the 
hypothesis of thought transmission can explain them 
quite as well as the spirit hypothesis. Here is, however, 
a case which is less easily explained : — 

" One of my friends is related to a lady, who lives with 
her husband in Paris. My friend told me that this 
cousin of his had amused herself one day with table- 
turning ; and he added that the table had followed her 
without any one touching it. I had spoken of this 
incident to M. Meurice, but without mentioning names. 
The incident of the table following the novice the first 
time she had tried table-turning was the only thing 

" Quite recently, while pursuing my inquiry upon 
mediums' eyes, H. B., through automatic writing, told 
me that the afore-mentioned friend would be able to 
give me some information on the subject ; the writing 
then named his cousin, but called her by her maiden 
name, giving the name correctly. 

" Now two or three days afterwards, M. Meurice had 
a vision or a dream — often he cannot tell whether it be 
one or the other ; he saw an aged lady sitting before 
a large table, on the top of which a doll's table was 
standing ; two younger women were with her ; one of 
these latter made the small doll's table turn round three 


times without touching it. The room in which these 
ladies were sitting was large, and M. Meurice thought it 
was in a country-house. The curtains were of rose- 
coloured velvet. 

" The scene described was the one my friend had 
related to me, but I pointed out to M, Meurice that one 
detail at least was certainly incorrect : viz. the doll's 
table. H. B. immediately wrote : ' He has not made 
a mistake, it was the small table which moved, and 
not the large one.' (// ne se trompe pas^ c" est h'len le 
mouvement d'une petite table qui a eu lieu^ et non celui (Tune 
grande.) I saw my friend the next day, and I related 
this incident to him. He assured me it was quite a 
mistake, that it was a large table, and not a doll's 
table, which had moved. I saw him again a few days 
later, when he told me he had made further inquiries 
about the table-turning incident, and had found out that 
it was indeed a doll's table placed upon the large table, 
which had effected the movements in question. 

" The vision was therefore exact on this point ; it was 
also exact concerning the number and age of the persons 
present, but the room in which the seance took place 
was in Paris and not in the country ; the description of 
the room was incorrect. 

" In this case, automatic writing confirmed the details 
seen hallucinatorily, or in dream ; these details were 
most certainly unknown to M. Meurice as well as to 
myself. I will add that even had I mentioned my 
friend's name, which I can affirm I did not do, that 
name would have been of no assistance to M. Meurice, 
inasmuch as he does not know my friend, much less 
his cousin in Paris. 


" This is the most precise case, in which M. Meurice 
has given me correct details unknown to myself. 

" If we examine in a general manner the character of 
the H. B. personification, we are, perhaps, obliged to 
admit that it presents a spiritistic appearance. This 
appearance is all the more singular, in that it manifests 
in a centre where the spiritistic hypothesis is looked 
upon with disfavour. I am well aware of the fact, that 
tendencies opposed to those of the normal personality 
are often observed in secondary personalities. 

*' Young girls of a most timid and reserved disposition, 
normally, sometimes show obscene parasitic personalities, 
under the influence of which they give utterance to the 
most filthy language, and perform most indecent acts. 
The processes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
are most instructive from this point of view, especially 
those of Loudun and Louviers. It is not surprising, 
therefore, to see personifications calling themselves 
spirits emerge in a non-spiritistic centre ; it is probably 
a phenomenon comparable to that of the secondary 
personalities just spoken of. A different synthesis of 
psychological elements is formed, which follows an 
opposite bent to the one normally followed. It is as 
though the poles were changed, and a secondary person- 
ality reveals itself as the very reverse of the first 

'* The interesting point to seek for, however, is not the 
genesis of the personification, for there are so many 
hypotheses which might explain it, but to determine 
which explanation concerning the personification best 
suits the particular circumstances. 

*' My observations upon the H. B. personification — the 


most thorough I have so far been able to make — do not 
permit me to form a definite conclusion ; at the same 
time, they do not tend to make me look favourably 
upon the spirit hypothesis. If we resume the details 
given by H. B, : — 

*' A. About himself, his person, we find : 

" I. 2. Two ways of wearing his beard. 

" 3. A peculiar mark near the eye. 

"4. 5. A very peculiar walk : right leg shorter 

than the left. 
" 6. The hair was fairly well described. 
" 7. The eyes were not well described. 

'^ B. Details about his clothes and habits : 
" 8. An unusual shape of slipper. 
" 9. The shape and colour of his cravats. 
'* 10. His walking-stick. 
"II. The manner in which he passed the last six 

years of his life in an armchair. 
" 12. The shawl which habitually covered his legs. 
*' 13. His habit of taking a glass of brandy and 

water every afternoon at 5.30. 
'* 14. His allusions to his brother L. and to his 

"15. A gold chain and pendants which he never 

possessed : followed, however, by the 

rectification of the error. 
"16. The detail of the l^emps. 

" That is to say : two inexact, two doubtful, and 
twelve accurate details. 

"It may be of interest to draw attention to the process 


employed by this personification to prove his identity ; 
it is worthy of some attention, because it touches on 
precise details. Those particular signs which are of 
capital importance in the identification of persons, we 
find in details i, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 13, 14, and it would be 
most unjust to refuse to recognise in these indications 
at least an appearance of volition and intelligence, 

" The character of volition has been decidedly indicated. 
The H. B. personification began to manifest itself by 
giving details concerning his physical appearance and 
his habits. When M. Meurice saw H. B., he frequently 
perceived the apparition very indistinctly, with the excep- 
tion of the particular point which the personification 
appeared to be desirous of impressing upon him ; this 
occurred particularly with details i, 2, 4, 5, 9, and for 
the rectification of the watch-chain incident — 15. 

" The character of intelligence has not been less marked 
than the character of volition. The personification gives 
the impression of having deliberately chosen the signs, 
by which he desired to prove his identity. Everybody 
knows how difficult it is to recognise such or such a 
person by the mere description of features ; definite 
details and peculiar marks are, on the contrary, of the 
greatest value for purposes of identification : and these 
are precisely the details which H. B. seems to have 
chosen ; these are the kind of details he seems to have 
shown with the greatest persistence. 

"Such facts as these plead in favour of the spirit 
hypothesis ; it would be unfair to deny it. 

" In the first place, there are some inaccuracies, e.g. 15. 
Can we attribute this to the iconogenical activity of the 
medium.? This is the theory which Dr. Hodgson has 


so finely developed, and the arguments he appeals to 
are very serious. The sensorial or motor message is due 
either to the medium himself, or to an intelligence 
distinct from that of the medium, or to the combined 
action of the two intelligences. Notwithstanding Dr. 
Hodgson's weighty arguments, this explanation can only 
be considered, at present, as a working hypothesis. It 
is rather difficult to understand why an extraneous in- 
telligence could give twelve accurate details, and make a 
mistake in two or three other important details ; it is still 
more difficult to understand, if the identity in question be 
present, why he should commit such mistakes ; and it 
seems to me that the personal action of the medium 
explains these errors even less satisfactorily. 

" Nevertheless, we must admit that even if we accept 
the hypothesis of the personal action of the medium 
troubling the extrinsical action of a foreign intelligence, 
this simultaneous blending of true and false details is 
little made to bring about a conviction of the inter- 
vention of an active intelligence, other than that of the 

" Finally, even in admitting as proven the intervention 
of an intelligence non-human, nothing permits us to 
affirm that it is really the person in question who is 
manifesting and not an impersonation. This distinction 
has been well put forward by theologians, though the 
rules they give for the discernment of spirits appear to 
us to be most puerile. 

" To sum up, the case of H. B. has an appearance which 
is, frankly speaking, spiritistic ; but it is not possible to 
consider as certain, or even as probable, the pretensions 
manifested by this interesting personification." 




I propose gathering together, for the first part of 
this series, a few interesting things scattered here and 
there among the notes before me. 

On one occasion Chappe dictated by means of raps 
without contact — in broad daylight— that 760 copies of 
a work of Dr. Maxwell's had been sold. Four days 
later, in the same manner, he said that 958 copies of the 
said work had been sold ; incorrect information as the 
following proves : the day after the seance in which 
Chappe had announced the sale of 958 copies, Dr. 
Maxwell received a letter from the publisher of the 
work in question telling him that 800 copies had left 
him, including the press service. 

"We had some good phenomena on Tuesday afternoon," 
writes Dr. Maxwell. '* I was talking to M. Meurice about 
my bibliographical researches, and of the best plan to 
adopt for the analytical indexes. A small mahogany table 
was near us, one leg of the table was touching a rug on 
which M. Meurice was sitting. Raps resounded on the 
table ; Chappe's signal was given, followed by some 
advice concerning the subject of our conversation. Tele- 
kinetic phenomena were also forthcoming — the table 
gliding towards us and then away from us according 
to request, travelling a distance of from three to five 

"Then I tried an experiment, one I have been wishing 
to try for some time : I bade M. Meurice sit in an 


armchair and lie perfectly still. I placed his arm at 
about one foot from the table, and told him to fancy he 
lifted his arm and struck the table, without, of course, 
making the slightest movement. 

" We obtained some excellent raps in this way. This 
is a fine experiment, for it shows clearly the production 
of raps by the will — the direct, conscious and personal 

'^We tried three series of experiments ; six raps in 
each series were willed ; we received four raps in each, 
that is to say, 66 per cent, of success. The raps were 
loud, one was double. The medium nearly fainted after 
this experiment, but came round quickly, though he 
has not been well since. 

" His sensations were : (i) absence of sensation in the 
arm with which we were experimenting ; (2) a kind of 
breeze issuing from his shoulder. After willing the 
raps he was never sure of success, he did not feel the 
wood had been touched. Sensibility appeared to be 

In another of Dr. Maxwell's letters we note the 
following : — 

" For our seance yesterday we obtained, as usual, a 
quantity of raps through the lead-pencil. I succeeded in 
provoking them upon myself. Sensation produced : 
when M. Meurice put the pencil on bone I had a 
sensation of a slight electric current ; it produced no 
contractions in the muscles traversed ; the sensation was 
at its maximum on bone, probably because of the greater 
conductibility offered by solids to vibration. 


" I have tried the raps upon several substances with the 
following result : — 

the finger : good. 

wood : very good, maximum. 

ivory : good. 

iron : bad. 

" Sensibility appears to be exteriorised during the 
production of raps through a pencil. Yesterday there 
was sensibility at a distance of four centimetres from the 
periphery of the hand, which was holding the pencil, when 
the raps were forthcoming. 

" I asked Chappe to indicate in one word why it 
was easier to obtain raps with a lead-pencil. He 
dictated the answer, ' Localisent.' 

"Before we separated we received the following message 
by raps without contact : ' Jeanne Bordes morte 7 octobre 
1859 a St. Pierre Martinique, demeurant 37 rue St. 
Jacques' I do not know of any Jeanne Bordes, though 
a family of that name lives at St. Pierre, I have 
questioned some people who have lived in that town, 
but they do not recollect any Jeanne Bordes. . . ." 

In another letter the doctor writes : — 

" Towards four o'clock this afternoon, in broad day- 
light, some very fine raps resounded on a table standing 
thirteen feet away from M. Meurice and myself. It was 
said to be H. B. who was rapping, M. Meurice 
became nervous, and the experiment only lasted for five 
minutes. It was magnificent as an example of raps at 
a distance." 

The following extracts are taken from Dr. X.'s notes: — 
" On one occasion Professor Richet and I were speak- 


ing about a relation of the professor's, A. R., who 
was supposed to have communicated with him through 
M. Meurice. The latter could not have overheard 
our conversation, for the simple reason that he was 
at least ten miles away from where we happened to be 
at that moment. Five or six hours afterwards, when 
Professor Richet was out walking with M. Meurice, raps 
suddenly resounded on the latter's walking-stick, and 
the following words were dictated : ' Suis avec vous! 
(Who are you ?) ' A. R. Je ne vous ai jamais ahandonne.^ 
" In the course of the morning's conversation, the 
remark had been passed that the persistency of this 
personification's manifestations would be looked upon by 
some as a sign of survival, and I had made use of the 
words: ' I wonder if he — A. R. — has been near you lately.' 

" The medium was aware of certain experiments I 
had made with a sensitive at Nancy. He often heard 
me discuss with Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell, the 
phenomena I witnessed there. One day, in presence 
of Professor Richet and myself, Chappe dictated that 
he followed me about sometimes, upon which I said : 
' Were you with me in Nancy .? ' He replied (by 
means of raps without contact) : ' Qui. D. s" attire des 
ennuis en groupant autour de lui des influences inferieures. 
Defiez-vous de la domestique. Fraude. II y a eu autre- 
fois un fort medium^ Henri Dubuc^ a Nancy. S. nest pas 
un medium a materialisations.^ 

" This communication was given in broad daylight, by 
means of raps without any contact whatsoever. The 
raps resounded on a table which was standing near, 
but which was not touched, either directly or indirectly, 



by the medium. From time to time Professor Richet 
and I leant on the table, but not with a view to aiding 
the phenomena — I mean to furnishing ' force.' Our 
touching the table or not seemed to make no difference 
to the rapping intelligence. The message was dictated 
with precision and rapidity. 

"It is to be noted, that M. Meurice held a decided 
opinion concerning the experiments at Nancy ; he was 
not at all inclined to admit their authenticity. The 
group, at whose seances I had been permitted to be 
present, know of no Henry Dubuc. 

" While the preceding communication was being given, 
one of the observers made the remark, sotto voce^ that 
he had a headache, and wondered if Chappe could 
suggest a remedy : immediately the somewhat laconic 
reply, ' Dorme'z^ was rapped out." 

The following message contains an incident of a 
certain interest, if the reader will kindly compare it 
with the efforts, related in Series C, page 359, to 
obtain a particular name. 

'* A letter had been received from Professor Richet, 
in which reference had been made to a curious occur- 
rence at Carqueiranne, very much like an orthodox 
haunting. During lunch, I spoke about this to the 
medium. As often happened when the conversation 
turned on these grounds, raps mingled freely with our 
conversation. Thereupon I asked who was rapping, 
and received the reply that C. R. (Professor Richet's 
grandfather) was present ; whereupon the following 
conversation between this personification and myself 
took place : — 


" Question : Can you explain the haunting at Carquei- 
ranne ? 

" C. R. : Qui. 

" Question : Who is it who haunts the place ? 

" C. R. : Mere. 

" Question : Whose mother ? 

" C. R. : Grandmother Jacques. 
Mere Charles. 

'^ (Jacques is the name of the boy to whom the incident 
in question occurred.) 

" Question : What is her name ? 

" C. R. : Eugenie. 

" This name ' Eugenie ' is the one we had tried in vain 
to obtain four months previously.-^ It was now given with- 
out any hesitation whatsoever, by raps without contact. 

" Following this word ' Eugenie,' the raps predicted 
the death of one of my brothers in a month's time from 
an automobile accident. The prediction, happily, re- 
mains unfulfilled. When this message was received, I 
did not know if my brother ever rode in motor cars ; and, 
for several reasons, I did not consider it at all likely ; 
but three weeks afterwards, I had a letter from him asking 
me to procure him several catalogues, as he had the 
intention of buying a motor car. My brother lives in 
California. The medium knew I had relations in 
California, but did not know about my brother, much 
less his name." 

In the following messages, the raps were obtained 
with and without contact. 

" I had been anxious about my youngest brother, and 
had openly spoken of my anxiety, saying I had reason 

1 See page 359. 


to fear that my brother and his tutor did not get on 
well together. One evening, during dinner, Chappe 
rapped out the signal intimating his presence ; the raps 
resounded on the table close to where I was sitting, 
and at a distance of about three feet from the medium. 
Asked if he had anything to say, Chappe dictated : // 
faut laisser le petit en repos loin de son tuteur. I wish to 
draw attention to the last word, for it marks a curious 
error. When speaking to the medium of my brother, I 
always made use of the word tuteur^ whereas, in French, 
I should have said precepteur. The two words have 
quite a different meaning ; my brother was not with 
a tuteur in the French sense of the word, but with a 

" Now, a short time before, my brother had shown 
symptoms of a cardiac affection, and was undergoing 
a special treatment. Neither the medium nor Dr. 
Maxwell knew of this ; they thought my brother was in 
the best of health, as indeed he appeared to be. 

" After the last communication had been received, I 
asked Chappe if my brother's health was good. My 
question was : Est-ce que sa sante est bonne ? The 
answer came : Arythmie du cceur ; separez-le de son 

" At the time, 1 myself did not know the precise 
nature of the weakness. I simply knew that my brother 
had had two attacks of spasms of the heart ; but, I 
repeat, I had not mentioned this fact to any one. A 
fortnight after receiving the foregoing communication, 
I had a letter from the doctor charged to watch over 
my brother, in which letter the term ' arythmie ' was 
employed for the first time, in connection with him. 


" My family thought of sending my brother to the 
Pyrenees for a few months' rest and change. I asked 
Chappe if he could tell me what was contemplated ; he 
replied : Peut-etre ferez-vous bien de garaer Raoul aupres 
de vous ; dans deux mois^ Paris^ campagne^ Hyeres^ Iky 
Arcachon ; all so many efforts, one would say, to read 
my thoughts — but without success. 

" A seance had been arranged for at which Dr. 
Maxwell, Professor Richet and I were to be present. 
Much had been expected from this seance, for there 
were many signs of ample force. The raps were 
certainly excellent, and, with a great show of dignity, 
asked : Permettez-vous a un ami de (mentioning my 
name) de venir ? Permission being given, it was an- 
nounced that " Georges R. " wished to speak with me. 

" I know of no Georges R. ; the medium, however, was 
aware of the fact that R. is one of my family names. 

" The raps (' Georges R.') continued : Votre pere 
a eu un accident de voiture ; foie trh contusionne ; soaisr 
chute ; {soir sa chute ?y 

" No accident of any kind has happened to my father 
either at the time of receiving the above message, or 

" The rapping ceased abruptly, when this last message 
was given, and no further phenomena occurred at this 
particular seance. 

" At a short seance at which Dr. Maxwell and I were 
present, the medium said he could see Chappe walk- 
ing about the room with a lady on his arm ; the lady 
was dressed in mourning. Raps accompanied the 


medium's words and, the name of the lady in mourning 
being asked for, the word ' Marguerite ' was dictated. 
Asked why she was in mourning, the raps replied that 
it was for identity's sake, because * Marguerite ' was in 
mourning when she died. {Signe identite — en deuil quand 
elk est morte.) Asked for the name of the person for 
whom Marguerite was in mourning, when she died, the 
raps replied : ' Katey.' 

" Now, a favourite aunt of mine died a few years ago, 
whose name was Marguerite. My mother died a few 
weeks before my aunt ; consequently my aunt was in 
mourning for my mother, when she died. My mother's 
name was Kate, but my aunt always called her Katey. 

'^ I can affirm never having spoken of these details 
either to Dr. Maxwell or to the medium. 

" During this seance it was Dr. Maxwell who spelt out 
the alphabet." 

I will give one more quotation from Dr. X.'s notes : — 
" Chappe was rapping so noisily and abundantly one 
morning that, in default of other phenomena being 
forthcoming, I asked him if he would kindly tell me 
what was man's occupation after death. My exact 
question was : ^u'est-ce quon fait dans f Au dela ? 
Very quickly and unhesitatingly the raps answered : 
On est dans ravissement profond^ et occupe uniquement de 
faire le bonheur de tous ceux qui sont chers et le souci 
d'apporter des preuves d'une vie futureT 

In the exposition of the few facts in this, as well as in 
the other series, we are trying to throw every light in our 
power upon the agency operating behind these messages. 


This necessitates personal details here and there which, 
we hope, the reader will forgive. On every occasion, 
unless the reverse has been stated, M. Meurice was 
thoroughly wide-awake. It was often he who spelt out 
the alphabet, especially when the observers had reason to 
suspect a name — or the nature of the message to be given. 
He always permitted a constant and careful scrutiny of 
his every movement, when the raps were produced with 
contact. When raps were forthcoming without contact, 
they were given wherever requested, e.g. on a chair, the 
floor, the centre of the table or under such or such an 
observer's hand ; in these cases the vibration was easily 
perceived. When the pencil was used, care was taken — 
by holding M. Meurice's hand and the pencil — to make 
sure of the fact that neither hand nor pencil stirred, 
while the raps were being produced. 

There can be no doubt whatever of the authenticity of 
the raps, which gave the messages laid before the reader 
in this chapter. 

All things considered, the chances seem great that 
these raps are not accidental, but significant of some 
fact in the complex and obscure structure of human 
personality — dare we say in the structure even of the 
Cosmos ^ 


The following is Dr. Maxwell's compte rendu of some 
telekinetic phenomena, which were forthcoming on the 
25 th and 26th July 1903. These notes were written 
immediately after the phenomena occurred. 


'■'■ Z'^thjidy 1903; 4.30 P.M. 

" M. Meurice and I were working in a small study in 
the former's house. The room is about eight feet 
long by eight feet wide. On the NE. side is a 
window ; SW. a door ; NW. a glass door. The 
window was closed, and the shutters were half closed on 
account of the excessive heat and glaring light. The 
furniture consists of : a writing-table in the E. corner ; 
a divan against the NE. wall ; a low chair in the 
S, corner ; a rectangular table in front of the couch 
or divan ; a small hexagonal table near the rectangular 
table ; a gilt cane chair in front of the window ; a 
wooden stool in the W. corner ; a chimney-piece in 
the N. corner ; an armchair in front of the rectangular 
table ; a small gilt chair was between the latter table and 
the divan. It was drawn under the table. 












" M. Meurice and I had been writing (correcting 
proof sheets) on the hexagonal table. M. Meurice was 
sitting on the edge A of the divan, I was at B opposite 
him, when raps were heard on the writing-table — with 
which M. Meurice had no contact. I measured a 
distance of two feet between him and the writing-table. 


At the same time, raps in quantity, but of feeble tonality, 
resounded on the hexagonal table. 

" We removed our writing materials on to the rectangu- 
lar table, for the sake of more room. The raps gradually 
ceased ; they died out altogether on the writing-table and 
began, though very feebly, to resound on the rectangular 
table. We worked for an hour and then rested a while. 
M. Meurice sat back on the couch, putting one of his 
feet on the chair between the divan and the table. Raps 
immediately resounded on the chair, I went and sat 
down beside my friend, and observed that the raps 
appeared to come from his foot ; I found that they were 
synchronous with our movements ; they also responded 
correctly to my mental and spoken request. 

" I left the couch and sat on the armchair in front of 
the rectangular table. M. Meurice drew his legs under 
him and sat on the divan, tailor-fashion. We decided 
to try to move the gilt chair standing between the divan 
and the table. There was a space of fourteen inches 
between the divan and the chair, I sat on the armchair. 
M. Meurice brought his hands towards the chair, palms 
facing the chair ; he kept his hands still at a distance of 
seven to eight inches from the back of the chair; I stretched 
out my arms above the table towards the chair. When I 
contracted my muscles, the arms and hands extended, the 
chair moved. The amplitude of the movement was very 
small, scarcely a quarter of an inch, but the movement 
was abrupt and decided. It was a jerk, which took place 
shortly after the muscular contraction. 

"This movement was reproduced three times under the 
same conditions. 

" Then M, Meurice and I changed places. I sat on the 


couch in the same way as he had sat ; M. Meurice 
made the same movements I had made. The chair 
moved twice ; the amplitude of the movement was much 
greater than with me ; the chair was displaced an inch 
each time. After the second movement was produced, 
M. Meurice said he felt tired ; he lifted his arms above 
his head and stretched himself; that is to say, he pulled 
himself upwards ; his feet did not go near the table. 
While stretching himself, the chair suddenly — for the 
third time — displaced itself a distance of an inch. The 
latter movement coincided with the extension of the 
back, at the moment when the muscles of the grooves 
and lomho-sacre contracted. 

" The direction of these movements was from the table 
towards the couch ; the chair receded from the table, 
whether M. Meurice or I sat on the couch. 

" Seeing how easily these movements without contact 
were being obtained, we went downstairs into the dining- 
room with the object of trying to obtain some pheno- 
mena, which M. Meurice had obtained when alone the 
previous day ; namely, the attraction of wine-glasses. 

" I took a liqueur-glass, and put it on the mantelpiece 
in the dining-room. M. Meurice made some passes 
around the glass, then put his two hands together 
meeting them at the finger-tips ; he drew his hands 
slowly away, the glass followed his hands by jerks. 

" We then returned to the study. I sat down 
on the divan and prepared to resume my writing. 
M. Meurice was standing near the mantelpiece. In a 
few minutes I heard him say he was attracting the chess- 
men. I got up and watched carefully. His hands were 
in the position described above in connection with the 



liqueur-glass ; he drew his hands slowly backwards, 
and the red king followed his hands ; this tiny piece 
is about half an inch in height and a quarter of an inch 
in diameter. The movement was slow and gliding. 
M. Meurice tried to reproduce the phenomena but 
failed. He said he was tired and would rest a while. 
In a few minutes he renewed his efforts. I stood 
close beside him ; again failure. After a few more 
minutes of rest, he tried again — I watching him closely 
all the while — and, this time, succeeded in attracting 
the same piece — the red king. The piece followed 
the direction of his fingers, as before, slowly and 

" M- Meurice again complained of feeling tired, and 
I urged him not to try for any more phenomena, but 
to lie down and rest. I went to my writing once more, 
but M. Meurice was restless, and told me he wanted to 
try to move an empty beer-bottle, which was standing 
on the mantelpiece. 

" He took it from the mantelpiece and put it on 
the wooden stool. He knelt down in front of the 
stool, and made the same manoeuvres with his hands 
as for the liqueur-glass and the chessman. I remained 
sitting on the divan, a distance of nearly seven feet from 
the stool. M. Meurice, after the above-mentioned 
manoeuvres, i.e. passing his hands several times round 
the bottle, joined his hands together at the finger-tips, 
and drew them gently backwards as before. The bottle 
moved four times, each time from two to three inches. 

" M. Meurice then said he felt sea-sick ; and he was 
obliged to lie down for a while. He soon rose up, 
however, and said he wanted to make something else 


move. He took a piece of sealing-wax, tried several 
times, but failed to move it. Thereupon I persuaded 
him to cease making further attempts." 

" Phenomena of attraction similar to yesterday, occurred 
this afternoon. We were in M. Meurice's bedroom. It 
was four o'clock, the window was open, the shutters were 
ajar ; the light was excellent. 

"The mantelpiece is covered with plush. On one 
corner there is a statuette in porcelain representing the 
Thorn ; the child is seated on a chair, and is puUing 
a thorn out of his foot ; the statuette is five inches 
high. M. Meurice told me that he was going to 
make this statuette move. I stood near him, with 
one hand on his back ; I stooped down, and looked 
fixedly and narrowly at the statuette during the whole 
operation. M, Meurice proceeded exactly as in the 
preceding experiments, and when his hands — joined 
together at the finger-tips — were at a distance of six 
inches from the statuette, the latter swayed, bent slowly 
forward, and fell over. I afiirm most positively, that 
there was no hair or thread or normal link of any 
kind whatsoever between the statuette and the medium's 
hands. I passed my hand all round the statuette, before 
the movement, during the movement, and after the 
movement ; I thus verified by touch, what my eyes 
were witnessing. 

" Now, after M. Meurice had made some passes with 
his hands around the statuette (without touching it, be 
it remembered), and when, after putting his hands 
together at the finger-tips, he slowly withdrew them, 
I heard a slight noise, like the rubbing of a hair on 


the statuette ; at the same time the latter swayed ; this 
creaking sound did not continue, and only accompanied 
the first movements of the statuette. Again I affirm, 
that there was no hair or thread whatsoever connecting 
the medium's hands with the statuette. 

"After the production of this phenomenon, we decided 
to have a dark seance, for the purpose of trying to 
obtain luminous phenomena. I closed the shutters and 
pulled down a dark blind, especially constructed for 
dark seances. While I was doing this, M. Meurice 
continued trying to attract various articles on the 
chimney-piece. Seeing this I drew the dark blind 
away again and let in more light, in order to be able 
to see clearly. I took a stick of sealing-wax, broke 
off a piece and put it on a small mirror, which 
was lying on the mantelpiece. In this case M. Meurice 
did not make any preliminary passes as with the 
statuette, beer-bottle and liqueur-glass ; he simply 
joined his hands together in front of the sealing-wax ; 
the sealing-wax followed his hands several times, in 
fact every backward movement drew the wax after the 
hands ; he finally drew the sealing-wax to the edge of 
the mantelpiece, when it fell to the floor. 

" The seance which followed was unproductive. A few 
raps were heard, but that was all. After the seance, we 
lighted up the room, opened the window, and M. Meurice 
again tried to move the sealing-wax. He succeeded with 
great facihty, the sealing-wax following every movement 
of his fingers. 

" By sight and touch, I assured myself of the absence 
of any link between the wax and M. Meurice's hands. 
I solemnly affirm that no such link of any kind existed. 


"I desired to write a letter, and, thinking that the 
phenomena were probably exhausted for the time being, 
I begged M. Meurice to allow me to get off my letter. 
I was in the act of writing, when he said he felt he 
could move another article. I watched him : he took 
up another statuette, which stands a foot high ; he put 
this statuette on a small table which was near me ; he 
kept his hands open, palms turned towards the object 
in question. He moved his hands slowly backwards 
and forwards, and I observed the statuette bend forward 
when his hands receded, and bend backwards when his 
hands approached it. His hands were never nearer than 
ten inches to the object. 

" M. Meurice then complained of feeling unwell, and 
threw himself on his bed. His hands touched the head 
of the bed, on the woodwork of which raps at once 
resounded. Chappe gave his signal, and dictated : 
' B. MENAGEZ.' Questioned as to what he meant, he 
said to take care of the medium, and not to take 
advantage of the power. We ceased experimenting, 

" I have a few remarks to make concerning the 
above phenomena. When I held my friend's hands, 
I obtained nothing. M, Meurice says he saw a 
thread, or rather a sheath of filaments, pass from his 
fingers on to the object of experimentation. As a rule, 
he made passes over the object he wished to move, as 
though he were putting a thread of some kind around 
it. He did not always do this, e.g. if the object to 
be moved were light and small, he made no passes 
over it. 

" This movement would be very suspicious, if observa- 


tion were superficial ; but apart from the purely scientific 
spirit in which M. Meurice views his own phenomena, 
the severe control I exercised demonstrated the absence 
of any material link whatever." 

More Extracts from Dr. MaxzveU's Notes 

" -i^rd June 1903. 

" A movement without contact was forthcoming this 
afternoon. I placed a table upside down upon a linen 
sheet. M. Meurice and I put our hands on the sheet, 
some distance away from the table. The latter turned 
completely over ; the movement was performed slowly 
and gently. It was at four o'clock, the sunlight was 
streaming in through the open window. 

" We also obtained the movement of a heavy wooden 
stool with slight contact. M. Meurice and I were 
sitting on a couch, the stool was near us ; abundant 
raps were heard on the stool. M. Meurice took up a 
piece of linen, put one end on the stool, putting a framed 
picture on top of it to keep it in place ; he put the other 
end on his knees. In a few minutes, the stool swayed 
about and finally moved a distance of three inches away 
from M. Meurice. I watched him well and can affirm 
he moved neither hand nor foot during the production 
of this phenomena. 

" M. Meurice experienced much fatigue after this 
movement. It occurred at half-past four ; the light, I 
repeat, was excellent." 

" iit/i June 1903. 

"It appears that M. Meurice attracted several objects 
— pieces of bread, forks, etc. — yesterday during lunch. 


But he could not reproduce the phenomena in my 
presence. We had, however, raps and numerous slight 
movements without contact — raps almost ad libitum. 
Automatic writing followed, but contained nothing of 
interest ; it was impossible to obtain replies to mental 
questions : subjectivity. 

"P.5. — I am adding a postscript to my letter from the 
medium's house ; for we have just received some fine 
phenomena. The raps were, as usual, very abundant ; 
but we also received two fine series of paraklnetic 

" I. I brought a small mahogany table up to the sofa 
on which M. Meurlce had thrown himself. I sat down 
beside him, taking a shawl which I threw over him 
and the table. Instantly, raps resounded on the table. 
M. Meurice could not possibly have touched the table 
without my noticing it. 

" The table swayed about, now on this side, now on 
that ; and then dragged Itself towards me by jerks, first 
one side, then the other. When I squeezed M. Meurlce's 
hand or gave him a slight tap on the shoulder, there was 
a synchronous movement in the table. The latter also 
moved in response to request. Then it gently raised 
itself up on the two feet which were nearest to me ; this 
side lost contact with the floor and rose to a height of 
four inches. 

" 2. We were both carefully watching this Interesting 
phenomenon, when I heard raps on another table which 
was about a foot away from the sofa and two feet away 
from the table with which we were experimenting. 
This second table had no contact whatsoever either with 
the sofa or with the shawl : it was Isolated. Hearing 


the raps, I looked at the table and saw it rise up, or to 
be more correct, sway about — only three of its legs 
touching the ground. M. Meurice had not noticed 
this phenomenon ; when I drew his attention to it, he 
became suddenly nervous, and complained of feeling 
tired. I pointed out to him how much this sensation of 
fatigue was subjective and out of all proportion with the 
energy expended. But new or unexpected phenomena 
always upset him ; he experiences a sort of anguish 
blended with something like fear in presence of a new 

" These movements of the second table lasted for 
several minutes ; they were synchronous with our own 
movements and muscular contractions, but were also 
forthcoming at request. We were operating in broad 
daylight. Chappe informed us, by raps, that he was 
the operator on this occasion." 

" I \th July 1904. 

" I was obliged to make an early call on our medium 
this morning. Lucky visit ! for he was in a working 
mood and gave two fine movements without contact. 
We began by sitting at a table, where we received raps 
by means of the lead-pencil ; the words : Put yourselves 
against the daylight were rapped out. We did not 
understand what this meant, and ceased experimenting. 
We went downstairs and walked about in the garden for 
a few minutes. When we went back to the study, we 
resumed our seance. M. Meurice sat down on the 
divan and I in front of him. Raps without contact 
dictated : Lie down for a while, we want to try for a 
■physical effect. 


" The raps directed that I was to lie down on the sofa 
and M. Meurice was to take my place. We followed 
these directions. 

" M. Meurice said he felt 'queer'; that his hands 
seemed to be full of hair, or rather of spider's web, and 
he tried to rub the feeling away. I got up and took 
down from the mantelpiece the statuette of St. John, 
the history of which you know.^ He tried to attract it, 
but without results. We waited, the spider's web sensa- 
tion returned, and this time I prevented him from rubbing 
it off; he drew his hands together over and then in front 
of the statuette and — his fingers at a distance of five 
inches from the object — attracted it to him. The 
statuette moved two inches. 

" M. Meurice felt ill after this movement, and was 
obliged to lie down for a while. He soon got up, and 
tried again. But I stopped him, fearing he might over- 
tire himself; though the statuette did not move forward 
this time, it swayed about." 

" litk July 1904. 

" On Thursday morning, M. Meurice again succeeded 
in attracting the statuette of St. John. He told me he 
felt the cobwebby sensation, which — in his case — coin- 
cides with telekinetic phenomena ; he took the statuette 

1 " Concerning the statuette : the medium was — two months previous to the 
seance here spoken of — given the catalogue of a sale of antiquities to be held 
at Bordeaux. When going to bed he took the catalogue to glance over it ; 
but he says he was so sleepy, that he did not get any further than the first 
page. In the night, he dreamt that he was to buy No. 256 in the catalogue, 
which — he was told in his dream — was the Christ of whom he had seen the 
vision a few months previously, when Madame Stephens was with us. (See 
Series C, page 349.) 

" When the medium awakened, he looked up No. 256, and found that it was 
an ancient wooden statuette of St. John the Baptist/'— A^o/^ bj Dr. X. 


in question and placed it on a table. He then pro- 
ceeded as though he were putting something behind the 
object, making several passes with his hands all round 
it. As he was drawing his hands away from the statuette 
— they had reached a distance of nine inches — I heard 
something like the crackling of a hair or silken thread on 
the wood of the statuette, and then the latter moved. 

'* The excellent conditions of light under which the 
experiment took place, the control of sight and touch 
which I most carefully exercised, the proximity of the 
statuette to my eyes, all this renders the absence of any 
hair or thread most certain for me. This is the second 
time I have heard this scraping sound. 

" M. Meurice was extremely fatigued after the pro- 
duction of this phenomenon, and fainted. On recovering 
himself, he insisted on trying once more, and succeeded 
in making the statuette sway about. 

" The day following this experience, he attracted 
several small articles — wine-glasses, bread, etc. — near his 
reach on the luncheon-table. I was not present, however. 

" You perceive how very suspicious the phenomena 
sometimes appear to be. Nothing short of actual obser- 
vation could demonstrate the absence of a connecting 
link of some kind between the medium's hands and 
the object in movement." 


By Dr. X. 

" For about eighteen months. Dr. Maxwell has been 
endeavouring to turn the phenomena in the direction of 
luminosities or materialisations. 


" With that object in view, he has had a light portable 
cabinet constructed. This fragile apparatus consists of 
eight pieces of pinewood fitting into one another by- 
means of hooks. When put together, there is just 
enough space inside the cabinet to allow of the introduc- 
tion of a small, straight-backed chair ; a person sitting 
thereon, finds himself in contact with the back and sides 
of the cabinet, and his knees against the door. A large 
curtain of purple cloth has been made, which is thrown 
over the cabinet, covering it completely. The curtain is 
buttoned over the door. 

" The luminous phenomena already obtained with this 
medium and spoken of by Dr. Maxwell on pages 152-5, 
were sufficient grounds for hoping that patience and 
perseverance might, finally, obtain happy results capable 
of being repeated. 

" For more than a year nothing demonstratively 
objective was forthcoming. In the darkness, one often 
imagined one could see clouds of vapour moving about 
near the cabinet ; but there was nothing to prove that 
this appearance was anything more than an optical 
illusion. On these occasions, the medium frequently 
complained of a disagreeable sensation on his hands 
and face, as though he were caught in a spider's web. 
He has also said, that he perceived from time to time 
an odour of phosphorus or ozone in the cabinet ; the 
medium has been the only one of the experimenters to 
notice this odour, so far. 

" Whenever I have been present at these attempts, 
I have observed that they were accompanied by complete 
cessation of all other phenomena, such as visions, raps, 
telekinesis. Until November 1904, this apparently 



negative result was about all that was obtained at these 
dark seances. 

" During the first week in November, the medium 
being in good form, and the ' force ' abundant, it was 
decided to devote a few days, which Professor Richet 
was able to dispose of, to an effort to obtain luminous 

" Three seances in all were held. There were present, 
Professor Richet, Dr. Maxwell, M. Meurice, and myself. 
The seances were held in a very small room on the top 
floor of the medium's house. 

" The following is a diagram showing the disposition of 
the room in which the three seances, of which I am 
giving the compte rendu, took place. 



Cabinet '^ 


'^alle yi 





"The door, which was shut, leads into another room, 
the two doors of which — leading into a corridor — were 
locked during the experiment. The window and 
shutters of this adjoining room were closed, and the 
room darkened, so that no light therefrom could pene- 
trate under the door of the seance-room. 

" The seances were held between 5 and 6.30 o'clock in 
the afternoon. Total darkness was obtained by closing 
the outside shutters and the window, and by hanging a 
large black curtain — kept for the purpose — across the 


window. No ray of light was visible on the sides of the 
window ; the position of the latter could be guessed at 
during the seance — simply because we knew where it 
was — but could not be perceived. The darkness was 
profound. A candle and box of matches were placed on 
table A. When the experimenters were seated, the 
candle was blown out. 

^^ Results. — Tuesday, ist November 1904. The four 
experimenters were seated around the table (see 
diagram) ; the medium (who is not marked on the 
diagram, because he was in the cabinet whenever 
phenomena were forthcoming) was seated between Dr. 
Maxwell (M) and Professor Richet {R), with his back 
to the cabinet : No results — nothing whatever — neither 
raps nor anything else. 

" The medium goes into the cabinet. After an interval 
of a quarter of an hour, M and X think they see milky- 
looking clouds floating about near the cabinet, but they 
are unable to affirm the objectivity of this appearance. 
At the close of the seance, feeble raps are heard on the 
table ; the raps dictate that Professor Richet is to sit in 
the cabinet on the following day." 

Second Seance 

" Wednesday, 2nd Noij ember 1904. 

" Professor Richet sits in the cabinet. The medium 
sits at the spot marked M on the diagram ; Dr. 
Maxwell sits at R. After sitting in this way for a 
quarter of an hour — during which time nothing occurred 
— the medium asked to be allowed to go into the 


cabinet. Professor Richet then sits at R, and Dr. 
Maxwell at M. Almost immediately M and X see a 
phosphorescent, milky-looking, amorphous light, of about 
six inches in diameter in parts, floating about outside 
the door of the cabinet. It was decidedly objective, 
lasted for about one minute, and gradually disappeared. 

" R did not see the light. 

*' [From an experiment made on the following day, we 
have all three reason to believe, that Professor Richet 
did not see the luminosities at this seance because of 
his position. Let it be borne in mind that X was in 
direct line of vision with the door of the cabinet, and 
that M was also favourably placed for observation. 
These facts did not strike us until the seance was over, 
and R's inability to see what M and X afiirmed were 
objective lights was incomprehensible at the time 

" When the medium took Professor Richet's place in 
the cabinet, he said the latter appeared to him to be all 
lighted up ; when Dr. Maxwell and I saw the light 
outside the cabinet, the medium declared he was in utter 
darkness. During the production of this phenomenon, 
M. Meurice was heard to breathe heavily ; he said he did 
not know why he felt obliged to do this ; he complained 
of feeling suddenly very cold ; at the same time, a cold 
perspiration broke out on his forehead. He also said 
that he felt the need of stretching himself and yawning. 

"An interval of ten minutes now passed. Then M 
and X saw an amorphous luminosity gradually form in 
front of the cabinet, and make slight movements in the 
direction of the table at which the experimenters were 
sitting. M, by the light of this luminosity, sees the 


curtain slowly open, and close again as the light 

" R sees nothing definite. He thinks he sees a cloud- 
like substance, but is not sure of its objectivity (because 
of his position ?). 

" As in the case of the first luminosity, so for this 
second one, M. Meurice declares that the cabinet is 
lighted up within, becoming dark when M and Xsee the 
light. He has the same sensations of cold. In addition, 
he says he feels tired, and asks to be allowed to dis- 
continue the seance. 

" No odour of phosphorus was perceptible, although 
the lights we observed had something of a phosphor- 
escent appearance ; but I think it would be more 
correct were I to compare what I saw on this occasion 
with the Milky Way ; in fact, these luminosities pre- 
sented an appearance almost exactly similar to that 
presented by the Orion nebulas, when seen through the 

" The medium looked pale and tired, when we closed 
the seance, but he quickly recovered his vitality, and 
during dinner — scarcely an hour later — some fine tele- 
kinetic movements of a heavy walnut dining-table were 
forthcoming in, of course, full light. Seeing the table 
move, apparently of its own accord, we joined hands 
two feet above the table, and succeeded in making it 
follow the direction our hands took : now an inch 
to the right, now three inches to the left, etc. ; we had, 
finally, a strong, rotatory movement of six inches. The 
medium's knees and feet were under Professor Richet's 
observation, while these movements were being 


'Third Seance 

" Thursday, "i^rd November 1904. 

" For this seance, because of Professor Richet's inability 
to see the lights, which were visible to M and X at the 
preceding seance, the experimenters change their places, 
and sit in the following manner : — 

^ X. 

CalineZ. ^ 




" Professor Richet goes into the cabinet at the medium's 
request, the latter takes i^'s place at the table. After 
an interval of ten minutes, the medium goes into the 
cabinet and R takes his new place at the table. 

'* Almost immediately, lights are seen moving about on 
the door of the cabinet. R, M, and X all see these 
lights. M does not see the first two lights, which R 
and X mention seeing. He moves closer to R, and 
then sees distinctly. R has the impression that a ray of 
light from twelve to eighteen inches long, and varying 
from one to three inches wide, is placed at the opening 
in the curtains ; he thinks he sees the curtains held open, 
so to say, by the light. 

" The ray of light appears broader to Xthan to R and 
M. X says he distinctly sees the curtains move, and 
open ; he has the same impression as i?, namely that of 
the light holding the curtains apart. 

'* This luminous ray was shown six times, at intervals 
of a few seconds only. Its duration varied from ten 
seconds to a minute. In form, it was constantly 


changing, though the long ray remained. R, M, and X 
had the impression that the luminosity was forming 
around the ray. A long, vertical streak of light was 
shown first of all ; the succeeding lights appeared to be 
built up around this ray, which always remained the centre 
of luminosity ; i.e. the light, strong in the centre, died 
away to right and left, leaving no distinct outline to 
the luminosity which, besides being amorphous, was 
extremely mobile, though in a sense, fairly stationary. 
i?, iVf, and X saw slight differences in the shape of the 
lights, a fact which was perhaps due to their relative 
positions ; but all three agreed as to the vertical ray 
and the general shape the luminosity appeared to be 

"From time to time, M. Meurice complained of an 
oppressive, suffocating sensation, and said that he felt he 
must open the curtains, for a few seconds. Whenever 
he opened the curtains, no lights were visible. M and 
Xtook hold, of his hands when he opened the curtains, 
and closed the latter themselves, when M. Meurice said 
he felt better. 

" At this seance, as before, the medium prepared us 
for each phenomenon, by announcing beforehand, that 
his cabinet was suddenly illuminated, and as suddenly 
darkened ; the darkness inside corresponded to a 
luminosity outside the cabinet. 

" The six lights above mentioned were very distinct, 
and very luminous (phosphorescent). 

"The phenomena ceased for a few minutes. M. 
Meurice then asked to be allowed to change places with 
X. This is done ; Xremains a quarter of an hour in the 
cabinet, during which time M. Meurice says he sees an 



oval-shaped light, about three times the size of an egg, 
floating about on the curtains of the cabinet. R and M 
see nothing. The medium returns to the cabinet, and X 
resumes his seat. Immediately^ large triangular-shaped 
luminosities are seen by M and R outside the cabinet. 
X has suddenly fallen asleep. 

"Af and R then see very mobile, amorphous lights, 
varying from three to nine inches in diameter, float- 
ing about X's head for a few seconds ; their lumin- 
osity is less great than that of the lights seen on the 
curtains, but is sufficiently pronounced to light up ^'s 

"The phenomena again cease. X awakens. M. 
Meurice asks Dr. Maxwell to change places with him. 
The doctor remains in the cabinet for ten minutes : no 
phenomena ; M. Meurice returns to the cabinet, and M 
resumes his place at Professor Richet's left. 

'' Very quickly, the same phenomena as before occur. 
The luminous ray assumes a broad, oval-shaped appear- 
ance ; it measures about ten or twelve inches by about 
fifteen inches ; it advances a few inches towards the table, 
and then disappears, to show itself, a few seconds later, 
larger, rounder in shape, and more brilliant. M and X 
think they can distinguish the outlines of a human face 
in this luminosity, but R says it appears amorphous to 

" Shortly after this, Af and Jf see a faintly luminous ball 
of about six inches in diameter, form outside the cabinet, 
— on the curtain — approach and float over the table above 
the experimenters' hands. R sees this also, but compares 
it to a luminous fog. R cannot affirm the correctness of 
his last perception. 


^' Thereupon the seance terminated. 

" During the production of these phenomena, M. 
Meurice complained of excessive cold ; we heard him 
shivering, and his teeth chattering. He yawned fre- 
quently, and stretched himself repeatedly ; he breathed 
heavily, and constantly complained of feelings of oppres- 
sion and sea-sickness. 

" When the seance was over, he complained of intense 
thirst and drank several glasses of water. 

" The weather on these three days was very fine, dry, 
and fresh. 

" The conclusions arrived at by those who were present 
at these three seances, are : — 

" I. That the above-described luminosities were de- 
cidedly objective. 

" 2. That no oversight, no error of observation can 
explain them." 

The above compte rendu was drawn up by Professor 
Richet, Dr. Maxwell and Dr. X. at the end of the 


By Dr. X. 

The reader will, perhaps, kindly forgive a few pro- 
bably uninteresting but necessary details, before we 
enter upon the last series of these psycho-physical 

Many reasons, chiefly of a family nature, have rendered 
a substitution of names imperative. In other respects, 
and as far as the phenomena themselves are concerned, 


this series, like the foregoing, adheres most strictly to 
the facts as they occurred. 

Early in 1903 a gentleman, whom we will call Mr. 
Stephens, a man occupying a high official position in 
Europe, wished to marry a young Swedish girl. Mr. 
Stephens's parents having, it appears, made other matri- 
monial arrangements for their son, were most strongly 
opposed to his wishes. Mr. Stephens decided to follow 
his own inclinations, and was quietly married to Miss 
Marie H. in the beginning of the year 1903. He did 
not inform his family of the step he had taken, trusting 
to time and events for the strained relations between 
himself and his people to disappear. 

A short time after his marriage, he received a peremp- 
tory call to a foreign country. It was impossible for his 
wife to accompany him, for three excellent reasons : 
I . Mr. Stephens was not supposed to have a wife. 2. The 
spot he was ordered to is not a spot for a woman to visit 
— not being as yet civilised in the European sense of the 
word. 3. Mrs. Stephens had reason to believe she might 
become a mother. Moreover, Mr. Stephens did not 
anticipate a longer absence than that of six months. 

Mr. and Mrs. Stephens had passed the interval 
between their marriage and the former's departure for 
abroad in Paris. They lived very quietly, and had 
trusted their secret to no one. In the dilemma into 
which this foreign mission plunged them, Mr. Stephens 
decided to make a confidant of a particular friend, certain 
as he was that his secret would be in safe custody. This 
friend was Professor Richet. 

Dr. X. writes : — " Mr. Stephens was anxious not to 


leave his wife alone in Paris, during his absence, and 
knowing that Professor Richet intended making a long 
series of experiments with Dr. Maxwell at W., he 
decided, for diverse reasons, to send his wife to the 
same locality. Thus it came about that Mrs. Stephens 
was invited by Professor Richet to join the investigating 
circle, a circle which it had been intended should be 
strictly limited to Dr. Maxwell, Professor Richet, the 
medium [M. Meurice] and myself. No one, save 
Professor Richet, knew of the foregoing details. 

" When Mrs. Stephens arrived — her husband came with 
her, but only remained a couple of days — we saw a tall, 
slight, fair woman of twenty-two or twenty-three years 
of age, — a quiet, gentle, refined-looking woman. As 
she was, curiously enough, a spiritist, and even pos- 
sessed ' intuitive ' faculties of a pretty marked character, 
— she had had several veridical hallucinations, and occa- 
sionally indulged in spectrum gazing with fair results — 
her addition to the circle was looked upon by the other 
three members as having been decided by Professor 
Richet, because of her nascent psychical powers. No sus- 
picion of her situation — of which even Mrs. Stephens her- 
self was as yet uncertain — ever dawned across our minds. 
She was an early riser, a good walker, and apparently 
enjoyed the best of health. The most practical medical 
eye could have detected nothing abnormal in her health. 

" Very much had been expected from this particular 
series of experiments ; but, for reasons which are beyond 
our comprehension, comparatively little was received. 
There was every evidence of abundant force, and the 
medium was, at times, almost unnerved by our syste- 
matic lack of success. 


" Throughout the whole of this particular series, more 
than ever did the agency manipulating the energy act 
like an independent intelligence, giving striking evidence 
of power when it cared to do so and, when not disposed 
to communicate, shutting off all communication most 
decidedly and completely." 

We propose setting forth succinctly, but in detail, the 
results, both mediocre and superior — and just as they 
occurred — of these few weeks of experimentation, leaving 
it to the reader to bestow an acute analysis upon them in 
his own guise. It was only as the time allotted this series 
drew to a close, that the phenomena took a personal turn, 
and bore so directly, and so intimately, upon Mrs. 
Stephens's life. 

The notes which are quoted in this series by Dr. X. 
are, without exception. Professor Richet's. 

First Seance. Time 8 to \o.iop.m. 

*' Before sitting down," continues Dr. X., " Dr. 
Maxwell had placed on the table a small cardboard box, 
in which were two amethyst crystal balls. 

"The small table was six inches away from M.Meurice, 
and three inches away from Professor Richet. Contact 
had been purposely established between the two tables by 
means of a small white cloth — which did not interfere 
in any way with the control of eyesight. A bright, 
electric light was burning. 

'^Several visions were described ; they offered little 
interest. Then the small table moved abruptly ; it 
approached the seance table in jerks, covering, in this 
manner, a distance of two and a half inches. It was veri- 


fied that no contact whatever existed, save that with the 
white cloth ; the latter was not touched by M. Meurice. 
Then for nearly an hour there was complete cessation of 
all phenomena, with the exception of perpetual rapping 
without intelligence. Thinking nothing more would be 
forthcoming, Dr. Maxwell and Professor Richet rose from 
the table, and went out on to the balcony of the room in 
which the seance was being held. Mrs. Stephens, the 







medium, and I remained at the table. I asked M. Meurice 
how he proceeded when he wished to attract articles — 
up to that moment I had not witnessed this interesting 
phenomenon. He replied, * I have an odd sensation in 
my fingers, and I do this ' — accompanying his words by 
certain hand movements ; that is, he drew his hands 
together in front of and quite close to the cardboard 
box still lying on the table ; he withdrew his hands — 
joined together at the finger-tips — very slowly, and, 
when the tips of his fingers were at a distance of 
six inches from the box, the latter began to move. It 
moved slowly and smoothly, without any jerking what- 


soever, exactly as though it were being dragged across 
the table by a cord. I thought I perceived a tiny 
ray of light ^something like a dewy spider's web 
with the sunlight gleaming through it — connecting M, 
Meurice's fingers with the box, but this was probably 
an illusion, as there was nothing palpable to the touch, 
I passed my hands around the box, and all over the 
medium's hands and arms, but there was no thread of 
any kind whatever. M. Meurice said he had not seen 
the box move, though I observed he appeared to be 
gazing fixedly at it during the operation, and though 
the box travelled a distance of six inches. 

" Without leaving my seat I called in Dr. Maxwell 
and Professor Richet, and told them what had happened. 
M. Meurice was asked to try again, while Professor 
Richet put out some of the lights, thinking thus to help 
the force, which might have been too severely tried by 
its last efforts. I take the following extract from Pro- 
fessor Richet's notes : — 

" ' The same phenomenon was reproduced in my pre- 
sence, but with less light — quite sufficient, however, to see 
everything, and every movement distinctly. The box, 
slowly and without any apparent jerking, followed the 
medium's fingers. I saw the box slowly displace itself, 
and drag itself over the plush-covered table, for a 
distance of nearly five inches. There was absolutely 
no contact of any kind whatsoever, either mediate or 
immediate. A strong gastric attack, quickly over, 
seized the medium after this experience.'^ 

^ This phenomenon maybe considered of such importance as to necessitate 
Professor Richet's exact words being given ; I therefore append them : — 
' Un autre phenomene d'attraction tres remarquable. Une petite boite en 


" On resuming the seance the raps were asked, ' Who 
is rapping ? ' 

" Reply : ' Antion.' ' Is it Antoine ? ' 

" Reply : ' Yes, Antoine Br.' We arrested the com- 
munication at the letter r, understanding it to mean 
Antoine B. of A Complex Case, p. 214. The raps then 
predicted the death of Madame B.'s second husband to 
take place in March 1904." 

[This premonition was not realised. The gentleman 
in question is in remarkably good health to-day, 
April 1905 ; but, at that time, Professor Richet 
was anxious about him. Dr. L. was utterly pro- 
strated by the sudden death of his wife Madame B. 
Neither Dr. Maxwell nor the medium knew that 
Antoine B.'s widow had married a second time ; nor 
were they aware of Professor Richet's anxiety concerning 
Dr. L.'s health.^ — Note by the Translator^ 

"The communicating intelligence, purporting to be 
Antoine B. , was then asked : ' What was the nature 

carton carree de 0.02 de cote environ est attiree, d'abord en pleine lumiere 
devant Dr. X. Le meme phenomene s'est reproduit devant moi avec 
beaucoup molns de lumiere. ... La boite etait lentement et sans secousse, 
pendant 2 a 4 secondes, attiree par les doigts du medium et je Tai vue se deplacer 
ainsi lentement, en trainant sur la peluche jusqu'a 12 centimetres environ. II 
n'y a absolument aucun contact, ni mediat ni direct. (Crise gastrique forte et 
passagere du medium a la suite de cette experience.) ' 

^ ' Since the above was written, Dr. George L.'s son, Olivier, a youth ot 
nineteen, has been killed in a railway accident (see p. 234). Notwithstanding 
the errors, there is a certain interest in the fact that the rapping force seemed 
to sense some near tragic occurrence to some member of the family. The raps 
first of all gave the surname L. of the person destined to die shortly; it 
was only after much hesitation that the name of George was given. The 
raps at first refused to give the date, but, after much pressing, dictated March 

' Professor Richet did not tell any one that Madame X. had already predicted 
the early death "of one of the sons.'' ' — Note by Dr. X. 


of Madame B.'s illness?' Reply: 'Ness, foie.' (The 
doctors who attended Madame B. when she died have 
not been able to agree as to what the malady was, though 
they think it was probably of a tubercular nature.) 

" We asked Antoine B. for another sign of identity, 
and received the word ' Carlos.' (Professor Richet con- 
siders it highly probable that every one present knew that 
Antoine B. called him by that name.) 

*' ' When the raps dictated the name of Antoine B., the 
medium said he saw standing near me a young man of 
about thirty years of age ; he had very soft blue eyes, 
and a short pointed beard. As far as it goes, this applies 
to my friend Antoine B.', says Professor Richet. 

" This first seance gave some fair results. We were 
now destined to pass several weeks without receiving 
a single phenomenon worth mentioning. We cannot 
account for this ; though Dr. Maxwell is inclined to 
think, that the energy was spent in efforts made to obtain 
psychic photographs. The weather was excellent, every 
one was in good, even exuberant, health and spirits ; 
the circle was very homogeneous ; no a •priori conditions 
had been laid down. Great things had been promised, 
but the great things were not forthcoming ; and the 
' force ' did not deign to explain why, though it gave 
occasional signs of being to the fore, and ready to work 
if it cared to do so. For example, it would rap out as 
many airs and rhythms as requested, but took refuge in 
complete silence, or disorder, or pleaded fatigue, if asked 
for telekinetic phenomena or intelligent messages. It 
acted like a lazy child asked to accomplish a possible 
but difficult task. 


" Photography was tried, but without success. On one 
of these occasions, when M. Meurice was re-entering his 
room after having sat for photography, he heard foot- 
steps beside him, and had the vision of a form which 
interposed itself between himself and the door, as though 
desirous of preventing him from entering his room. 
He heard the words : ' Pardon, je n'ai qu'un moment, 
vous avez deja entendu parler de moi ; je suis Antoine. 
Je viens voir mon fils.' . . . He then perceived the 
form of an old man, clean-shaven save for short 
whiskers ; he was wearing the crimson robe of a 
magistrate. The hallucination quickly disappeared. 

" No one, save Professor Richet, knew that this day was 
the anniversary of the death of his maternal grandfather, 
whose father's name happened to be Antoine. But we 
were all aware that Professor Richet had received various 
communications purporting to emanate from these two 
ancestors of his. It was also known that his grandfather 
had presided over the law-courts at Paris. 

" On one occasion, we had all five made an excursion 
into the country : and here I quote from Professor 
Richet's notes : — ' Coming home^ — it was moonlight, 
and still twilight — we got down from the carriage— a 
private omnibus — to walk a while. Dr. Maxwell and 
M. Meurice lagged behind, and Dr. X., Mrs. S., and I 
got into the carriage again, before they had caught us up. 
As she was stepping in, Mrs. S. told me she felt as 
though a woman were running behind her, and were 
helping her into the carriage ; seated, Mrs. S. continued 
to perceive this vision ; it was wearing a hood on its 


head, and a cross on its breast ; the vision bent its head 
over Mrs. S.'s hand, pressing its teeth on it *' as though 
to show she had died in agony, stabbed to death," said 
Mrs. S. When Dr. Maxwell and M. Meurice rejoined 
us, the former told me, in an undertone, that M. Meurice 
had just had a vision of a woman running behind Mrs. S.; 
the vision was wearing a hood on its head. M. Meurice 
and Mrs. S. continued to see this vision for above five 
minutes longer, when they both saw it disappear into a 
clump of trees. M. Meurice and Mrs. S. communi- 
cated their impressions to Dr. Maxwell and myself 

*' ' A few minutes afterwards, they both had another 
simultaneous vision. Mrs. S. saw a man astride one of 
the carriage-horses ; M. Meurice, with an identical de- 
scription of dress, saw a man not seated on, but running 
beside, the same horse holding the reins. He thought it 
was Chappe. Then everything disappeared. 

*' ' Neither visionary communicated their impressions 
to the other.' 

" Exception made of the attractions of the box and 
table, the foregoing results will probably be considered 
as demonstrative of nothing in particular. We were 
now to receive something more interesting. 

" Let it be said, en passant, that Mrs, Stephens never 
once saw the medium alone. There had not been 
the slightest break in her reserve. And all, save 
Professor Richet and herself, continued to think she had 
been invited by Professor Richet solely because of her 
psychical powers. M. Meurice sometimes remarked, 
seeking a reason for the inexplicable failure of the 


experiments, that he believed the cause lay in a super- 
abundance of power, that the psychic force was too 
great, that Mrs. S. gave forth too much power, etc. 

" Now, early one morning, three weeks after we had 
begun this series, Mrs. Stephens remarked to Professor 
Richet that [I again quote from Professor Richet's 
notes] ' during the night she had been thinking a great 
deal about the Christ, and had said to herself, if the 
spirits of the deceased can appear to man, why not 
the Christ ? And she said she had asked for a sign to 
be given her that this could be, Mrs. Stephens had 
scarcely pronounced these words, when Dr. Maxwell 
came into the sitting-room and said : " I have just seen 
M. Meurice, he had a vision while I was conversing with 
him. He said he perceived the form of a man with 
short hair and beard ; a halo of light behind him, a circle 
of gold on his head ; he was dressed in white ; M. Meurice 
says it was the Christ. With an imperious air, the form 
showed him a thick yellow manuscript — a papyrus — 
covered with writing. As M. Meurice was trying to 
decipher the characters for me, the vision disappeared. 
M. Meurice was suddenly exhausted, and had a fit of 
weeping before recovering his normal condition." 

" 'A few mornings afterwards the medium had another 
vision. This time it was Chappe who came, it appears, 
to tell him that it was not l/ie Christ whom he had seen, 
but a Christ.'^ 

" I must pause a while. It seems that Mrs. Stephens 
did not care about returning to Paris during her husband's 
absence ; and — in the event of her hopes being well 

1 See note, p. 329. 


founded — had expressed to Professor Richet her great 
desire of passing the rest of the year near Biarritz, a 
place for which she had a great liking. She begged 
Professor Richet to write for her to a house agent to 
procure her a villa in that town. It seems also, that 
Mrs. Stephens — though her manner had never betrayed 
this — had taken a fancy to the medium and his family ; 
one of his sisters is an experienced hospital nurse, and 
Mrs. Stephens was wondering — in quiet conversation 
with Professor Richet only — if it would be possible to 
persuade her to come and live with her at Biarritz. 
Upon this conversation Professor Richet obtained the 
address of an agent, and wrote to him according to 
Mrs. Stephens's wishes. He showed the letter to Mrs. 
Stephens. The latter said [again I quote from Professor 
Richet's notes] : ' Since I spoke to you about Biarritz, 
Chappe has told me something. He wants me to go 
to Bordeaux. Do not post that letter yet, let me wait 
a little while ; if my intuition be correct, if the idea 
of Bordeaux really came from the spirits, they are quite 
capable of finding a way of indicating it to M. Meurice 
and Dr. Maxwell. I do not wish to speak of it myself 
to M. Meurice ; this must come from the spirits 
themselves. . . .' 

" [We are endeavouring to give a faithful account of 
what actually occurred, and beg to be forgiven the 
unscientific language, which is occasionally unavoidable, 
if we are to convey a correct notion of the physiognomy 
of the phenomena.] 

" Now the morning (a Thursday) following the day on 
which the above conversation had taken place, Mrs. 
Stephens came to Professor Richet, and told him she had 


passed a very strange and perturbed night. She said 
that, towards eleven o'clock, she was suddenly awakened 
by a sensation that some one was in her room ; she was 
filled with fear. She turned on the light, but saw 
nothing. She kept the light burning, but still felt 
unaccountably frightened. She heard raps on the head 
of her bed. Gradually her fear quieted down, and she 
said she began to feel as though there were a host of 
spirits in her room, and a Great Presence was among 
them. ' And she imagined,' writes Professor Richet, 
* that a voice spoke to her in these terms : " A powerful 
spirit is here, be not afraid ; it is the child's guide ; your 
child will be a boy ; he has a great destiny before him, he 
will be a reformer. We counsel you not to force his 
inclinations, to choose no career for him, but to let your- 
self be guided by the child himself, when the time comes 
to think of his education." 

" ' Mrs. Stephens was still speaking of her night's 
experience, when Dr. Maxwell came into the room, and 
handed me,' continues Professor Richet, 'some verses 
which, he said, had just been written by M. Meurice — a 
kind of quasi-automatism — =in a state of semi-somnolence. 
He could not understand what it meant, and simply 
stated the fact without offering any comment on it.' " 

Here are the verses. For the sake of brevity we 
omit five of them, they are in the same strain as those 
given. We believe the reader will prefer to see these 
verses in the original : — 

Quand un enfant vient au monde, 
Vient au monde d'ici-bas, 
II faut qu'un ange en reponde, 
Et le suive pas a pas. 


Pas a pas il faut qu'il guide 
La petite ame en chemin, 
La petite ame timide, 
Qu'il doit prendre par la main. 

Et les anges se querellent 
Autour des bebes naissants, 
S'ils sont de ceux-lk qu'appellent 
Vers la Clarte les Puissants. 

Dans la foule qui I'assaille 
La petite ame choisit ; 
Elle est emue et tressaille, 
Et la crainte la saisit. 

II faut qu'autour de la mere, 
De la mere qui I'attend, 
Seuls les anges de lumiere 
Guettent le petit enfant. 

" During the course of the day, Professor Richet said to 
Mrs. S. that it would perhaps be well if she spoke to the 
medium about his sister ; but Mrs. Stephens answered : 
' No. Wait a little longer. I would have spoken to 
M. Meurice, had I been encouraged to do so by the 
spirits ; but I think it better to let the spirits tell them.' 

'* Thursday passed away without any further incident, 
and nothing was said to Dr. Maxwell concerning Mrs. 
Stephens's experiences in the night, or the concomitant 
nature of the automatic script with those experiences. 

" On Friday morning. Dr. Maxwell told Professor 
Richet that he had just obtained more automatic writ- 
ing through M. Meurice. This writing purported to be 
a communication from Chappe. The communication 
concerned Mrs. Stephens, said Dr. Maxwell, but was 
not to be given to her for the time being. Chappe 


asked that a sitting might be arranged for on the same 
afternoon, as he had something to say. The sitting took 
place ; it lasted from two to six o'clock, during the whole 
of which time Chappe did not once make use of his 
well-known subterfuges of ' fatigue,' ' silence,' ' no power,' 
etc, ; and, though as the seance wore on M. Meurice 
was very visibly fatigued, the operating agency manifested 
absolute indifference to such fatigue. It was as though 
Chappe had indeed something to say and meant to say 
it. The messages were given by means of raps without 
contact to begin with, but in order to diminish the 
chances of fatigue to the medium, we begged him to use 
the pencil as a rapping instrument. The light was 
strong, — an afternoon siMnmer sunlight shining into the 
room ; the pencil did not move when the raps were 
heard. The latter were given with force and without 
any hesitation ; they were as strong at the end of the 
seance as at the beginning." 

(In order to afford the reader every assistance in his 
appreciation and analysis of these messages, we will give 
them in the original.) 

" Chappe gave his special signal intimating he was 

" Observer : ' You wish to speak with us, Chappe ? ' 

" Chappe : ' Je veux demander a vos amis la permis- 
sion de vous parler de ce qui vous interesse.' 

" Acting on the advice of Chappe, we then traced the 
' magic circle ' in order to prevent, as Chappe said, the 
intervention of too many influences, and to preserve 
purity in the phenomena. 

" Observer, after an interval of ten minutes : ' Are 
you ready, Chappe ? ' 


" Much confusion in the raps, and impossibility of 
obtaining an intelligent answer ; after half an hour of 
confusion came the laboriously spelt out message : — 

" Chappe : ' Peut-etre que vous etes isoles.' 

« Observer : ' Why ? ' 

" Chappe : * Parce que vous les avez renvoyes, cercle 

" We were led to understand by this that the magic 
circle had had too good an effect, and prevented even 
Chappe from communicating with his companions. Once 
more we followed his instructions, inviting our ' friends ' 
into the circle. It was then announced that Robert, one 
of Mrs. Stephens's deceased relatives, was present and 
wished to speak. When asked what he had to say, we 
received : — 

" Robert : ' Bonnes fees qui entourent et qui m'em- 
pechent de vous rejoindre.' 

" We begged the ' good fairies ' to be so kind as to 
allow this friend to communicate. The raps indicated 
that the favour was accorded, and that our friend could 
now communicate with us. 

"Robert: 'vos esp^rances sont revues avec joie 


" Observer : ' What do you mean ? Give one signi- 
ficative word.' 

" Robert : ' enfant predestine X faire scienti- 


" Mrs. Stephens : ' What child ? ' 
" Robert : ' Le votre ; il arrivera, il faut etre heureuse, 
vous aurez tant de bonheur.' 

" Observer : ' Have you anything more to say .'' ' 
" Robert : ' Appelle ton enfant Chetien Alexandre.' 


" Observer : ' Is Chetien Alexandre correct ? ' 

" Robert : ' Alexandre Chretien.' ^ 

" Observer : ' Can you predict on what day he will be 
born ? ' 

" Robert : ' Oui. Epiphanie.' ^ 

" Mrs. Stephens : ' Do you know who the child's 
guide is ? ' 

"Robert: 'Oui.' 

" Mrs. Stephens : ' What is his name ? ' 

" Robert : ' Reponse plus tard.' 

" Observer : ' Have you anything more to say ? ' 

" Robert : ' Prudence,' For whom .'' ^ Marie ' (Mrs. 
Stephens). ' Au revoir.' 

" At the end of the above seance Dr. Maxwell handed 
Professor Richet the automatic script he had received in 
the morning. It read : '. . . (Mrs. Stephens) est en 
voie de famille. Elle desire aller a Biarritz et que (the 
name of the medium's sister) I'accompagne. Mais dites 
lui d'aller a Bordeaux, ou elle sera mieux soignee et ou 
les influences sont bonnes.' 

" A few days after the above messages had been received, 
the raps again signified their desire to communicate. The 
following conversation then took, place. 

" Observer : ' Who is here } ' 

" Reply : ' Robert. Menagez Marie. Marie . . . 

1 " The medium has frequently said that if he ever had a son, he would call 
him Chretien. The name Alexandre was also constantly on our lips, for two 
personifications, who frequently claimed to be communicating, were called 

2 " Mrs. Stephens had a preference for the Epiphany, and she told us, after 
the seance, that she had mentally asked her child might be born on that day — 
the 6th of January." — Note by Dr. X. 


Aesotheu . . .' (change of tonality, and Chappe's signal 
was given). 

" Chappe : ' Restez un moment tranquille. II y a 
trop de monde.' 

" (Another change of tonality in the raps, followed by 
C. R.'s signal — Professor Richet's grandfather.) 

" C. R. ' Quelque force mauvaise m'empeche de vous 
parler.' (Confusion for some time ; raps of various 
tonalities and in great number resound on the woodwork 
of the foot of the medium's bed — we were holding the 
seance in his room by Chappe's express desire.) 

" Chappe : ' Je ne veux pas qu'on se serve de cette 

" Observer : ' Why .? ' 

" Chappe : ' Parce que Meurice y couche.' 

" Observer : ' Where shall we go then ? ' 

" Chappe : ' Ou vous voudrez.' 

" This was not by any means the first time we had held 
a seance in M. Meurice's room, no objection had ever 
been made to this proceeding before, which, in fact, had 
been recommended by Chappe. 

" It was impossible to obtain another sign of any nature 
whatsoever. Professor Richet, Mrs. Stephens, and I 
went out of the room, leaving Dr. Maxwell and the 
medium alone. We had scarcely left when the latter, 
it appears, turned to Dr. Maxwell and said : ' I see 
Professor Richet tearing up some printed matter and 
burning it. I think it is the bad influence Chappe was 
speaking about.' 

" We three alone, commenting upon these messages, 
laid stress upon the excuse of ' bad influences,' and 
thought it was probably one of Chappe's tricks to 


avoid working, when it did not suit him to work. But 
suddenly Professor Richet remembered a piece of news- 
paper which he had put into his inner breast coat-pocket 
early that same morning, and on which was the name of 
a man who had been drowned the previous week — 
drowned before our eyes. This event had left a great 
impression on us all, every one had made strenuous 
efforts to save the man, and the medium in particular 
had striven hard to restore life. Professor Richet, 
coming across the man's name in a newspaper, had cut it 
out, and put the slip into his pocket-book, for reference 
sake, incase the phenomena should turn upon the drowned 
man. No one was near or could possibly have seen 
Professor Richet do this ; he also took the precaution of 
destroying the paper from which he had taken the 

" Now Professor Richet took the cutting out of his 
pocket-book, tore it up and burnt it before Mrs. 
Stephens and myself, laughingly saying : ' Let us see 
if that will destroy the bad influence.' 

" It was not till some hours afterwards, that he was 
told of what M. Meurice had said relative to the 
* burning of printed matter,' etc. 

" The next day, M. Meurice gave a fine phenomenon 
of attraction in presence of Professor Richet and Dr. 
Maxwell, It was two o'clock in the afternoon ; the 
two latter were playing chess ; M. Meurice was lying 
on the floor reading ; a fan was on the floor near 
him. He said : ' I begin to feel the cobwebby 
sensation in my fingers ; let us see if I can attract this 
fan.' Dr. Maxwell and Professor Richet left the table, 


and knelt down on the floor beside M. Meurice ; the 
latter proceeded, first of all, as though he were 
envelophig the fan with something ; then, meeting his 
hands at the finger-tips, he drew them back very slowly. 
When his fingers were about six inches away from the 
fan, the latter moved, and slowly followed his fingers for 
a distance of five inches. Professor Richet and Dr. 
Maxwell assured themselves by sight and touch, that 
the fan was not normally connected with the medium. 
The latter had a violent gastric attack immediately after 
the production of this phenomenon. 

" Professor Richet's birthday occurred during these 
investigations, and, when the day arrived, we ventured 
to express a hope that he might be favoured with some 
good phenomena. We tried, and received abundant 
signs of energy in the shape of raps. Chappe was asked 
if he had not something to say or ofFer Professor Richet 
as a birthday present. 

" Reply : ' Depuis votre naissance vous avez grandi 1 
Vous aurez des communications plus interessantes, que 
celles que vous avez revues.' 

" At this point some one asked the medium if he felt 
tired, and Chappe at once dictated : — 

" ' II faut pour un moment se reposer si on est fatigue.' 
However, no notice was taken of this advice. 

" Prof. R: 'Why has my mother never communicated.'' ' 

'' Chappe : * Parce que vous ne I'avez jamais appelee.' ^ 

" Here the raps indicate that ' C. R.' wishes to com- 

1 " True 5 but then neither was C. R. nor Antoine B. nor any other per- 
sonification ever evoked." — Note by Dr. X. 


*' C. R. (Prof. Richet's grandfather) : ' Je suis tres 
content d'etre avec vous.' Much confusion and mean- 
ingless rapping. ' Ici.' 

** Chappe : ' G. ne vous reverra pas.' 

" Prof. R. : ' Can you tell me my mother's name ? ' 

" Chappe : ' Je pourrai le dire quand je le saurai.' 

" There was a brief silence, during which Chappe was 
supposed to be asking C. R. for the desired name. 

" Chappe : ' Ad^le.' Wrong. But it was known that 
this was a family name. 

" C. R. : 'Veux-tu voir ta mere.'' Fais attention. 
Cette nuit elle t'apparaitra en reve.' This promise was 
not fulfilled. 

" Prof. R. : ' Try again for my mother's name.' 

*'C. R. : 'A — o — a — m — e; Marig ; Antoine ; 

" There was no approach to the desired name. There 
was plenty of energy, and the raps flowed quickly and 
without hesitation in certain instances, such as ' Veux-tu 
voir ta mere ? ' 

" Chappe : ' Prudence.' 

" Observer : ' Why ? ' 

" Observer : * Can you now give the name of the 
child's guide ^ ' 

" Chappe : ' Plus tard. Adieu.' 

*' The communicating intelligence frequently manifests 
— a fact which was particularly noticeable during this 
series of experiments — a supreme indifference to scien- 
tific aspirations, to furnishing proofs of identity or of 
any desire to meet the investigator halfway, and help 
him in his researches. 

" Since the communications concerning Mrs. Stephens 


had been received, whenever it was intimated that ' they ' 
had something to say, that something was generally the 
word ' Prudence ' or terms of a like signification. 

" The agency at work allowed it to be clearly seen 
that — for the time being at least — it interested itself in 
no one save in Mrs. Stephens. This solicitude was 
continued up to the last ; time after time the word 
' Prudence * was uttered, so often in fact as to lose all 
meaning from sheer force of repetition ; and no out-of- 
the-way heed was taken of the advice. 

" This series of experiments came to an end. 

'* Mrs. Stephens took a villa on the outskirts of 
Bordeaux, where the medium's sister joined her. 

" It appears that Mrs. Stephens looked forward with 
unusual joy to the coming event, and was much opposed 
to the idea of a wet nurse. I was now at Bordeaux ; I 
often saw Mrs. Stephens, and it is highly probable that 
M. Meurice, like myself, knew of Mrs. Stephens's very 
legitimate desire. Now Chappe had, for some time, 
given no sign of his presence ; but one day, when M. 
Meurice, Mrs. S., and I were out walking, sharp raps 
suddenly resounded on the medium's walking-stick. 
Mrs. S. begged him to touch the handle of her umbrella — 
which was open ; raps were then given on the outstretched 
silk. With loud decided raps, Chappe quickly dictated : 
' Retenez bien ceci, il ne faut pas laisser Marie allaiter.' 
We asked the wherefore, but the silence was com- 
plete ; do what we would, not another rap could be 

" On another occasion, when raps were forthcoming, 
we asked Chappe for a word which would portray the 


state of mind of those present, and received the very- 
appropriate reply : ' Paix absolue.' This message was 
given on the silk of the open umbrella, M. Meurice 
lightly touching the handle only. 

*' As the 6th of January drew near, Chappe began to 
get nervous about the fate of the prediction, and, by 
means of automatic writing, he indicated that we were 
to remember, that it was not he, but Robert, who had 
predicted that the birth would take place on the 6th 
January. Thereupon, he added that the event would 
not occur before the 15th of January — that it would 
take place on the night of the 14th- 15 th January. 
During the last fortnight this was often referred to by 
Chappe, by means of automatic writing — which perhaps 
gives more scope for the play of the subliminal. Chappe 
washed his hands, so to say, of Robert and his 

" Towards the 20th of December, Mrs. Stephens 
received news that her husband was on his way home, 
but was feeling rather unwell. In the letter, the word 
' nephrite ' was made use of. Mrs, S. did not mention 
this to any one ; she said, however, that her husband 
had a slight kidney worry. The next day, the following 
communication, bearing upon Mr. S.'s anticipated arrival 
in Bordeaux, was received from Chappe by raps through 
the pencil : — 

" ' II faut que vous I'empechiez de se mettre en route 
pour Bordeaux,' 

" Why ? ' Maladie serieuse s'il avait froid.' What is 
he suffering from ? ' Nephrite. Recommandez repos 
absolu ; bonsoir.* 

" On another occasion, always referring to the same 


subject, Mr. S.'s indisposition, Chappe said : ' Pas sage 
de faire le trajet de Londres a Bordeaux. Rassurez- 
vous. Maladie pas grave.' 

"The child — a boy — was born at 2.15 on the after- 
noon of the 5 th January, that is, on the eve of the 
Epiphany — -and not on the Epiphany as was predicted 

(page 3SS)' 

" Mrs. Stephens desired to add the name of Quentin to 
the names of Alexandre Chretien. I happened to mention 
this to M. Meurice, and by so doing awakened Chappe 
and a salvo of raps. He would not say what he. wanted, 
and M. Meurice remarked : * We are to go into Mrs. 
Stephens's bedroom.' We were admitted. M. Meurice 
stood near the head of the bed, but did not touch it. 
The raps resounded on the wood of the bed. Chappe 
dictated : ' II ne faut pas appeler Quentin.' The force 
was abundant, and this message had been given quickly 
and with decision ; yet, when we asked why the child 
should not be called Quentin, we could get no reply. 
It was for all the world as though a distinct intelligence 
was behind those raps, one, who, like ourselves, knew, 
on occasion, how to say : ' I have said ; let that 

" For a week, all went well with mother and child. 
Seven days after the child's birth, Mrs. Stephens was 
seized with a violent and inexplicable fever. The follow- 
ing day, a thoughtless servant handed her a telegram ; 

' " On the 4th Januaiy, Mrs. Stephens was particularly anxious about her 
husband, and insisted on driving into Bordeaux and personally sending him 
a telegram. Without a doubt, the anxiety and physical restlessness of the 
previous few days hastened the event." — Note by Dr. X. 


the telegram announced the death of her husband. The 
fever regained possession, and Mrs. Stephens died the 
same night. 

" Perhaps in conclusion, and as our only comment on 
this history, it may not be out of place to recall to mind 
Chappe's oft-repeated word, ' Prudence.' " 

And now, lest in the relation of the foregoing 
experiences, say rather in this simple registration of a 
few ascertained facts, we be reproached for a language 
which carries associations from which certain minds of 
a scientific bent may shrink, may we be permitted to say 
that there is more appearance than reality in our back- 
sliding — if backsliding there be. We have given an 
exposition of facts, touching upon unknown forces 
and arduous problems ; the magnitude and complexity 
of which we realise but too deeply — problems which 
cannot be solved by academic methods. Time and 
patient constancy of research are needed to bring them 
to a successful issue. 




This work would be incomplete, if I did not carefully 
examine fraud and errors of observation. The first 
should always be considered as possible. Errors of 
observation are even more numerous than fraud, and 
their sources are manifold. We should study them, 
learn their causes, and suspect them until the contrary 
has been proved. 


Fraud can be conscious, unconscious, or mixed. I 
have no need to say how frequent the first is, especially 
with paid mediums. Spiritistic reviews, notably the 
Revue Spirite, Revue Morale et Scientifique du Spiritisme, 
Light, Psychische Studien, give many examples of fraud 
discovered by spiritists themselves. Unconscious fraud 
is no less common than conscious fraud ; as for the 
third, mixed fraud, this is also very often observed. 

Conscious fraud. — (a) Raps. Nothing is easier to 
imitate. I have indicated the diverse ways of repro- 
ducing them artificially : gliding the finger or nail along 
the top of the table, with or without the help of resin ; 
rapping with the feet ; gliding the foot or dress — 
especially silk, dresses — against the legs of table, etc. 


These diverse movements imitate feeble raps to per- 
fection, if they be slowly made. For that reason I have 
always refused to consider raps as convincing when 
produced with any contact whatever. Consequently I 
exclude raps produced on the floor from those phenomena 
which have determined my conviction. Certain persons 
seem to be able to move their tendons at will, even 
making a considerable noise in that way. I observed 
this with a medical student who, by resting his elbow 
on the table, produced very sonorous raps ; but the 
movement of his arm was easily seen. I know another 
person who could crack his joints at will. 

The play of the knee-joint has been especially in- 
criminated by Mrs. Sidgwick in her article ' The 
Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism ' (Proceedings of the 
S.P.R. xiii. 45). She recalls to mind the interpretations 
given by Drs. Lee, Flint, and Coventry, who observed 
Mrs. Kane and Mrs. Underbill, two of the famous Fox 
sisters. Mrs. Sidgwick experimented with the third 
sister, Mrs. Jencken, and accepted the explanation of the 
American doctors. For them, the double raps were 
produced by a rapid movement of dislocation and 
readjustment of the knee. By placing in such a position 
as to render that voluntary dislocation impossible, e.g. by 
making the medium sit down with outstretched legs 
and heels resting on a soft cushion, no raps were forth- 
coming. It is possible that the explanation of the 
American doctors may be true concerning the case 
examined by them. In those which I have studied, it is 
certainly not acceptable. I have obtained raps on a 
table without any kind of contact whatsoever. J have 
obtained them on the floor, by placing the medium in 


positions which excluded the play of articulation. The 
kind of fraud in question was not therefore in operation. 
I have even made some mediums sit on my knees when 
raps were forthcoming ; I then made sure the raps were 
produced on the table, and that the latter was not 
touched. My conclusion as to the reality of the pheno- 
menon of raps is the result of nearly two hundred 

In obscurity, the means of cheating are unimaginable. 
I saw a young medium, who had succeeded in concealing 
a stick, simulate raps on the ceiling with it. I have 
known two others hit the table with their fists, kick it 
with their feet, etc. Everything is possible in darkness, 
and with certain confiding observers. 

(b) Parakinesis, or abnormal movements of objects 
with contact. I have often said that all movements 
with contact — except certain levitations which are, how- 
ever, difficult to observe with precision — are worthless. 
I have indicated the chief ways of simulating levitations, 
either by the hands, the feet or the knees. I will not 
revert to this. 

These methods are difficult in full light, but when 
the experimenters are placed in such a position as to be 
unable to keep a reciprocal watch over the feet, the 
second method is still easily brought into play. 

(c) 'Telekinesis. — Fraud is more difficult to perpetrate 
here. A connecting link of some kind or other would 
be required to move objects possessing a certain weight 
and bulk. I look upon this phenomenon as most 
convincing, when it is obtained in full light ; in obscurity, 
it is to a certain extent unverifiable. 

{d) Luminous -phenomena are easily simulated ; phos- 


phorescent oil and certain sulphides give excellent imi- 
tations of hands and forms. I have seen a photograph 
taken by magnesian light in a seance for materialisation. 
The medium, by way of imitating a materialised garment 
of some kind, had wound a white cloth around his neck, 
and moreover wore a false beard. Those present at this 
seance will not admit they were cheated. One of the 
sitters, a friend of mine, one familiar with psychical 
matters, but too honest himself to suspect fraud in 
others, did not think my judgment in this case was 
correct. It was necessary to have it confirmed by the 
celebrated Papus ! 

As for the phenomenon of attouchements^ this is of all 
phenomena the most easily simulated in obscurity. 

Every one knows the role played by dolls, disguises 
and confederates in seances for materialisation. The 
trickster's imagination is of inconceivable fertility. The 
recent Rothe trial gives us a fresh example of this. 

{e) Motor and sensory automatisms can be imitated 
with extreme facility, and their efficacious control is 
impossible. A careful analysis of the messages is 
necessary in order to appreciate their value. On the 
other hand, well-observed premonitions are of immense 

From the preceding, we see that all psychical pheno- 
mena can be simulated ; this does not mean that every 
psychical phenomenon is simulated. Those who wish to 
explain away everything by fraud make as great a 
mistake, as those who trustingly accept everything with- 
out control. 

There is an important general observation to be made 
concerning the phenomena I am treating in this book. 


It is of historical order, but nevertheless it gives a much 
wider signification to these facts than is usually accorded 
them. Many writers, Janet among them, imagine that 
spiritistic phenomena, as they call them, date from the 
celebrated events of Rochester, about the year 1847, 
where the Fox sisters were the objects of diverse mani- 
festations. But in reality these facts date much further 
back. One of the best observed cases is the one spoken 
of by Dr. Kerner in his book Die Seherin von Prevorsty 
which has been translated by Dr. Dusart into French, 
probably from Mrs. Crowe's English translation. 
Kerner observed raps and movements without contact 
from the year 1827, when he had Madame HaufF staying 
in his house. 

Phenomenon of the same kind are to be met with in 
accounts of haunted houses. There are stories of this 
kind dating from remote epochs, and diverse decrees of 
parliament exist cancelling leases for this cause. These 
phenomena were criticised at the end of the eighteenth 

It is only the metaphysical system founded upon these 
facts which is new. It is in that, and in that only, that 
spiritism or spiritualism consists. It is undeniable that 
the doctrine embodying the essence of these teachings 
has attained a considerable extension. I pointed out the 
radical differences existing between the beliefs of Anglo- 
Saxon spiritists and those of spiritists of other nationalities, 
particularly in that which concerns reincarnation. I will 
not go back to this ; but in order to specify the point in 
question, I will recall to mind that the only new pheno- 
mena which spiritistic forms of contemporary mysticism 
offer, are their constitution into a body of religious 


doctrines and their rapid extension. These phenomena 
are of sociological, not biological order. The facts upon 
which they are based belong, on the contrary, to biology. 

Further, it is not absolutely true to say, that the meta- 
physical theories established upon the revelations of 
spirits are new. The life of some of the ' saints ' in the 
Roman Church offers us several examples, one of the 
most celebrated being the devotion to the Sacre Cosur de 
Jesus ^ a special kind of worship based upon revelations 
claimed to have been accorded to a nun named Marie 
Alacoque, who lived in the eighteenth century. Monastic 
life has not the monopoly of such experiences. Commerce 
with spirits appears to be likewise one of the elements 
of the religious ceremonies of the Shakers ; even the 
Mormons seem to indulge in practices similar to those 
of spiritism ; Jerome Cardan, John Dee, Martinez de 
Pasqually pass for having held intercourse with im- 
material beings ; members of the order of the Red Cross 
have also been looked upon as holding frequent inter- 
course with diverse genii. If we study the history of 
human thought, we see that nothing is really new, nothing 
save perhaps the contemporary extension of spiritism. 
From many points of view, spiritism appears to play a 
role in the civilised, sceptical, material society of to-day, 
analogous to the simple role which Christianity played in 
the second and third centuries of our era. 

But this is a sociological problem ; its examination, 
however interesting it may be, would lead me beyond 
the limits I have traced for myself. I will confine 
myself, therefore, to drawing from the brief historical 
account I have just given, the conclusion it admits of. 
The facts studied by Janet and others are anterior to 

2 A 


spiritism, and cannot be legitimately designated by this 
name. I have already indicated that this word expresses 
an ensemble of metaphysical and religious doctrines 
explaining psychical phenomena by the intervention of 
spirits, and drawing their teachings from the revelations 
attributed to these same spirits. It is terminologically 
incorrect to designate these facts by a word which has a 
wider signification, since it expresses an explanatory 
hypothesis of these same facts. 

Custom has consecrated the word ' psychical ' facts or 
phenomena : this term is also imperfect, and it seems to 
me preferable to adopt the new term Metapsychical which 
Richet recommends. 

Therefore, in the actual state of research, the scientific 
problem, it seems to me, is not whether spiritism be true 
or false, but whether metapsychical phenomena be real 
or imaginary. 

As Richet and Ochorowicz have said, every medium 
may defraud, and the analysis of fraud is one of the most 
complicated problems which the study of psychical 
phenomena presents. It is also one of the most interest- 
ing. The Cambridge ^ experiments with Eusapia Paladino 
put clearly before us the question of fraud and its signifi- 

Before entering upon the psychological examination of 
fraud, it appears to me necessary to explain the significa- 
tion of the terms I am going to use, and after that to 
classify medianic phenomena. 

It is of primary importance to determine the correct 
signification of the expression consciousness." There are 

1 See Apjiendix B. 

^ The Freucli have but one word to express what is meant ui English by 


few words in philosophical language which have such 
diverse acceptations. As my conception of consciousness 
is somewhat special without at the same time being 
peculiar to me, I owe it to my readers to say what I mean 
to designate by this term. 

I conceive consciousness, lato sensu, as a function of 
living matter. It is the particular state which determines 
in organised and living matter another state of the centre 
where this matter lives. It is, if you like, a kind of 
reaction of the living matter in harmony with external 
phenomena. This mode of reaction, like every other 
mode of reaction, allows of two conditions : some sort 
of sensibility to the action of the ambient, permitting 
variations thereof to be felt ; some sort of activity which 
permits of realising an adaptation to the ambient, and of 
producing internal modifications corresponding, in some 
measure, to the perceived external modifications. In 
order that the internal modifications may realise this 
equilibrium, they must not go beyond a certain ampli- 
tude, whence the theoretic necessity for the sensibility to 
be always apprised of the internal modifications of the 
living substance, as it perceives the external modifications 
of the ambient. 

Experience proves that in reality things do happen in 
this way. In fact, we are able in the animal kingdom to 
prove the existence of special organs, some of them 
destined to the perception of the successive states of the 
ambient and of the individual, the others to the active 

the word Conscience (i.e. tlie principle which decides on the lawfuhiess or 
unlawfuhiess of our actions or desires), and the word Consciousness (i.e. the 
being aware, the knowing of one's own thoughts). Nevertheless we consider 
this chapter could ill spare this masterly synthesis. — Note of Translatoi'. 


realisation of the latter to the former. The different 
modifications provoked in the receptive system by the 
variations of the ambient, determine in their turn the 
intervention of the active system which realises the 
internal variations. This is the principle of the nervous 
and muscular systems, the latter being only put into play 
by the former ; natural history shows us the progressive 
specialisation of these nervous and muscular elements. 
At first non-differentiated in appearance, the animal cell 
presents in more complicated animals a sensitive pole and 
an active pole, the one nervous, the other muscular. 
The myo-epithelial or neuro- muscular cells offer us a 
classical example in the hydra. 

The examination of the development of the nervous 
system and of the muscular system in the vertebrata shows 
us their growing specialisation. The nervous cells are 
associated in systems more or less dependent the one 
upon the other ; the muscular cells are accumulated into 
masses. This is the application of that law of the 
division of labour, the constant operation of which we 
observe in all the phenomena of life. The nervous cells 
are grouped together in a heap, in a nucleus, and send 
their prolongations to the periphery or to the organs. 
These prolongations are of two kinds : some transmit 
impressions towards the cell (dendrites prolongations), 
others transmit excitations proceeding from the cell 
(cylindraxes prolongations).^ The centres themselves 
are hierarchised, so to speak, and are divided into two 
wide categories : the first destined to the functions of 

1 Dendrites, nerves conducting the influx towards the centre of tlie cell. 
Cylindraxes, nerves conducting from the cell towards the periphery or 
towards another cell. 


organic life, circulation, secretions, digestion, etc. ; the 
second to those of the life of relation. These two cate- 
gories include the sensitive cells and the motor cells ; the 
one transmits to the other the stimulus born of excita- 
tions provoked by the internal or external centres. 

In superior animals, at any rate in man, we observe 
that the activity of certain nervous centres is accompanied 
by a particular phenomenon, which is designated under 
the name of /)^rj'(?;7<2/ consciousness. It is the notion we 
have that the phenomenon is perceived by us, that the 
movement executed is executed by us. 

Personal consciousness does not accompany all per- 
ceived phenomena, nor all executed movements. Certain 
given conditions of diverse orders appear necessary, for 
the consciousness to become aware of these phenomena. 
This conscious consciousness is translated by the connec- 
tion of the impression or of the movement with a 

This personality looks to us as though it were con- 
tinuous. It is around it that our past impressions 
are grouped in the form of souvenirs. It is that which 
continues the ' self.' 

The consciousness I have just described is what I call 
the personal consciousness. The notion of personality 
which characterises it is not invariable, and is not necessary. 

It is not invariable, because the study of morbid 
psychology reveals to us that different personalities can 
succeed one another in the same individual, or even 
appear to be concomitant. This is notably the case with 
secondary personalities in hysteria or in epilepsy. 

It is not necessary, for diverse phenomena can be 
perceived and stored up in the memory without the 


personal consciousness being conscious thereof ; in the 
same way, movements adapted to a certain purpose may- 
be executed without the personal consciousness being 
warned thereof: such are notably the reflex and 
complicated movements, which custom has rendered 

The result of these facts is that the personal con- 
sciousness is manifested as a limitation of the general 
consciousness, of what I will simply call the consciousness. 
The study of the alterations of memory notably — diverse 
amnesias, hypermnesias, paramnesiae — shows us that those 
souvenirs of which the general and impersonal conscious- 
ness has the free disposition are incomparably more 
numerous than those at the disposal of the personal 
consciousness. This is incontestable as far as memory 
is concerned ; is it so with intelligence ? It is hard to 
say ; there are, however, numerous examples of problems 
solved and of work accomplished without the knowledge 
of the personal consciousness. 

Anatomy and physiology inform us, that personal con- 
sciousness is manifested in phenomena, which appear to 
have their seat in certain regions on the surface of the 
cerebral hemispheres. The cortical region seems to be 
appropriated, at least in part, by psychological phenomena, 
of which personality is the centre, active memory, atten- 
tion, judgment, abstraction, will. It is for this reason 
that this region is called ' the superior centres.' Under- 
neath this region the cerebral sub-cortical ganglions, the 
bulbous and medullary nuclei, the sympathetic gang- 
lions, and the plexus constitute the inferior centres which 
preside over certain functions foreign to the personal 


However, it must not be thought that the activity 
of the cortical centres is always perceived by the personal 
consciousness. That of the motor centres, for example, 
may exist unknown to the personal consciousness. I have 
already given the indication of certain complicated move- 
ments which can be voluntary and personally conscious 
in the beginning, and become, in the end, unconscious 
and yet voluntary ; e.g. the playing of a musical instru- 
ment. Likewise, certain involuntary movements can 
sometimes be perceived by the personal consciousness ; 
e.g. the rapid movement we make in chasing away a fly 
which is worrying us. If the centre motors of the arm 
which drives away the fly be sub-cortical or medullary, 
it is none the less true that the movements executed, 
even when they appear to be pure reflex movements, can 
sometimes be perceived. 

Movements executed without the participation of the 
personal consciousness and will are called automatic. 
This expression signifies for me, that the voluntary 
activity of the personality remains foreign to the move- 
ment executed. 

Therefore, in the motor sphere, that is to say in move- 
ments, we may have different relations between the 
movement executed and the personal consciousness. We 
have, first of all, conscious and voluntary movements ; 
then involuntary or impulsive movements, perceived or 
unperceived by the personal consciousness. 

These diverse movements are normal : that is to say, 
they are executed according to the recognised rules of 
muscular activity ; they do not go beyond the peripheral 
limit of the body ; the nervous influx is diffused along 
the nerves in the ordinary manner. 


If the nervous influx, or more correctly speaking, the 
mode of energy which constitutes it, goes beyond the 
material limits of the body, we have phenomena desig- 
nated by de Rochas under the name of exteriorisation de 
la motricite. These are again automatic phenomena for 
me, since the personal consciousness and the will do not 
participate in them. But they present a feature which 
distinguishes them from normal automatisms : they are 
exosomatic, if I may use that expression, while the others 
are endosomatic. These two expressions signify for me, 
the one exosomatic, that the movements are produced 
beyond the limits of the body ; the other endosomatic, 
that they are produced within the limits of the body, 
that is to say by muscular activity acting physiologically. 
The first, which are apparently contrary to the ordinary 
data of experience, are paranormal phenomena, that is to 
say, outside the usual rule ; the second, on the contrary, 
are normal. Parakinesis is a paranormal movement with 
contact ; telekinesis is a paranormal movement without 

Sensibility presents the same categories of facts. 
Properly speaking there is no veritable automatism in 
phenomena of sensitivity ; but we can nevertheless dis- 
tinguish therein, first, normal sensitive phenomena — that 
is to say, phenomena produced under physiological con- 
ditions, more or less well-known, but frequent, such as 
hallucinations, hypermnesias ; and second, paranormal 
phenomena, that is to say, phenomena which imply the 
existence of modes of perception to which the normal 
personality is foreign — clairvoyance, clairaudience, tele- 
assthesia, telepathy (Myers, Gurney, Podmore), exteriori- 
sation of motor pov/er (de Rochas). 


I have already indicated that these perceptions appear 
to depend upon the impersonal consciousness, and that 
the impressions thus perceived are transmitted to the 
personal consciousness in a given form analogous to that 
of dream perceptions — that is to say, in a dramatic form, 
with a concrete and symbolical setting. The impersonal 
consciousness seems, therefore, to be affected in a vague, 
general manner : the perceptions only assume an appear- 
ance of precision in those strata of the consciousness, 
where the notion of personality is determined. Hence 
the following conclusions, which I only give as proba- 
bilities : (i) that the notion of personality is susceptible 
of diverse degrees ; (2) that the impressions perceived by 
the general consciousness are agreeable or disagreeable — 
that is to say, only impart to the personal consciousness 
a very vague message, moral comfort or indefinable dis- 
comfort ; that, in rarer cases, the transmitted message is 
more precise, and takes the form of a detailed hallucina- 
tion ; (3) that, if telepathy exists, the general conscious- 
ness is capable of being affected by channels other than 
those of the ordinary senses, which have only a value in 
ratio to the personal consciousness of which they are, 
perhaps, the condition. 

This last consideration brings us back to the definition 
which I gave a little while ago of consciousness, which 
is, for me, the common property of all living matter : 
its sensuality is limited and specified by the senses, is 
limited and specified by the personality and the will. 

I beg the reader to excuse me for having entered into 
these explanations. I wished, as I said before, to state 
as clearly as possible the meanings I attach to the terms 
I use ; I have still another task to accomplish somewhat 


similar to the last : which is to classify medianic pheno- 
mena before studying their relations with fraud. In the 
first place I divide them into two wide categories, each 
capable of penetrating into the other, for, with the 
exception of luminosities, physical phenomena are rarely 
devoid of all meaning, and intellectual phenomena have 
always some fact of a physical nature as substratum. 
Therefore, these two categories are two different aspects 
of the same phenomena rather than two distinct cate- 

If we consider the purely physical side, we have the 
following approximate series : — 


Sonorous. — Raps ; diverse noises. 

Motor. — Normal ; paranormal ; parakinesis ; tele- 

Luminous. — Amorphous ; definite forms ; psychic (?) 

If we consider the form of communications, in appear- 
ance intelligent, by adhering to the mode of expression 
of the intellectual sense of the phenomena, we have the 
following classification : — 


Muscular. — Typtology ; grammatology ; automatic 
script ; automatic speaking. 

Sensorial. — Visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, olfactory 



Vaso-Motor. — Secretory phenomena ; vascular pheno- 
mena ; perspirations, etc. 


[Exteriorisations) : Motor. — Telekinesis ; psychography 
(direct writing) ; psychophony (direct voice). 

Sensitive-Sensorial. — Telepathy ; telaesthesia. 

Plastic. — Materialisations ; apports, etc. 

On the other hand, if we examine fraud in a general 
manner, we will notice the following correspondences : 
the words conscious and unconscious are taken in the 
sense of the personal consciousness : — 

Motricity -. normal. 

paranormal. 4. 

Conscious and voluntary Conscious voluntary 
movements. fraud. Simulation; 

Conscious but involuntary Conscious impulsive 

fraud. Simulation; 
Impulsive and uncon- 
scious fraud ; irre- 
No fraud. 

Sensibility : normal. 

Sensihility : normal. 


Unconscious and involun- 
tary movements. 

Exteriorisation of motricity 
and plasticity ; telekin- 
esis; materialisations. 

Voluntary falsehood. 

6. Illusions ; hallucinations ; 
hypermnesise ; param- 
para?iormal. 7. Exteriorisation of the sen- 
sibility ; clairaudience ; 
telepathy ; clairvoyance. 

Voluntary and con- 
scious fraud. Sim- 
ulation ; responsi- 

No fraud ,- no real 

No fraud ; real phe- 

As for true exosomatic automatism, there can be no 
question of fraud as far as it is concerned. This classi- 


fication, which I only give as an experiment, appears to 
me more complete than that of Ochorowicz's {Annales de 
Sciences Psychiques^ vi. 97). The latter distinguishes — 

{a) Conscious fraud. 

(b) Unconscious fraud : 

in the waking state . . | Medianity of an 

in the trance state . . J inferior order. 

{c) Partial, automatic fraud . 1 Medianity of a 

i^d) The pure phenomenon . . j superior order. 

If we compare Ochorowicz's table with mine we will 
notice that his conscious fraud corresponds to Nos. i and 
5 of my classification. 

His unconscious fraud to No. 3. 

I divide his partial, automatic fraud into the classes 
2, 3, and 6. 

The pure phenomenon into the classes 4 and 7. 

His superior medianity includes all exosomatic auto- 
matisms (Nos. 4 and 7) ; his inferior medianity, the 
classes 3 and 6. 

These general indications given, it is easy to see that 
I divide fraud into three categories, which are, moreover, 
susceptible of co-existing and of forming mixed types : 
this is the ordinary case. We have, first of all, the 
guilty, voluntary and conscious fraud ; then the impul- 
sive, but conscious, frequent fraud ; then the unconscious 
and involuntary fraud, veritable normal automatism : the 
author cannot be held responsible for this last order of 
fraud, which is, moreover, very frequent with many 
excellent mediums. 

If we study the psychological mechanism of fraud, we 
will find variable and diverse causes. 



The most usual cause is self-interest. This is the 
case with charlatans, who speculate upon the credulity 
of the public. We must not think this is the only 
motive ; each impostor obeys motives which are peculiar 
to himself. The medical student, who gave me such 
curious examples of fraud, was not actuated by motives 
of self-interest. I think it was simply for the pleasure 
of cheating, of taking me in, for I had often spoken to 
him about my suspicions. He often cheated simply as 
a prank ; this is what happened in a seance given by 
a spiritistic group to convince some new converts, 
when my student, it appears, gave them manifestations 
somewhat out of the common ! 

However, conscious and voluntary fraud raise no real 
psychological problem. 


On the contrary, the problem originates in this order 
of fraud. It often happens in circles, though composed 
of honourable persons, that some of the sitters, who 
would be incapable of voluntarily committing a fraud, 
do not dare to accuse themselves of an involuntary 
movement made by them, and of which they are con- 
scious. This can only be applied to fairly rapid 
movements, such as those which imitate raps or para- 
kinetic movements. In serious seances, the sitters 
should give themselves the habit of openly acknowledging 
every involuntary movement ; it will be noticed that 
certain persons are very prone to these movements. 
They often end by being ashamed of accusing them- 


selves so often, and thus fraud from timidity : I have 
met with this, especially among women. It is one of 
the reasons which make me condemn all experiments 
for the production of movements with contact. 

Timidity is the usual cause of this kind of fraud : the 
psychological problem raised is simple. 


Here the problem becomes complicated. I will not 
distinguish, as Ochorowicz does, fraud committed in the 
waking state from fraud committed in the trance or 
second state. The psychological mechanism is the same 
in both cases, and appears to me to depend upon self- 
suggestion, or what has been called monoideism^ that is 
to say, the mind is invaded by one idea, which ends 
by stifling all others, and by realising itself : it is, in 
reality, a phenomenon analogous to that determined by 

It is in unconscious or involuntary frauds, that the 
psychological disaggregation of the medium which Janet 
has studied, is best observed. These frauds present 
phenomena which are without interest from a medianic 
point of view. 

What is the mechanism of unconscious and involuntary 
frauds ? It appears to me to be the following : the 
subjects — they may have been good mediums in their 
day — who commit this kind of fraud sit down to the 
table, or give a seance in view of obtaining supernormal 
phenomena. But the production of these phenomena 
is often difficult, sometimes impossible. Immobility, 
expectation, and obscurity act powerfully upon the 


nervous system of these mediums, and particularly so 
when they are hysterical. They determine the trance ; 
the desire for the phenomenon becomes a fixed idea, 
and then a self-suggestion. If the supernormal pheno- 
menon delays, the inferior strata of the consciousness — 
whose morality often differs greatly from that of the active 
personal consciousness — realises it normally. 

In the same way, even if the sensitive does not fall 
into the trance state, there is, nevertheless, a particular 
state manifested which is not sleep, neither is it the full, 
genuine waking-state. The active and voluntary personal 
element of the consciousness, as well as the judgment, 
becomes weakened. The sphere of the personality is 
reduced, and personal activity gives place to automatism. 
Every degree between conscious and involuntary fraud 
and pure automatism is to be met with. 

Therefore, it is prudent to take measures to guard 
against fraud with all subjects who become entranced, 
or with those who become somnolent in obscurity, 
silence, immobility, and expectation ; but we should 
be frank with our sensitives : let us not offer, in our- 
selves, an example of dissimulation to the medium ; 
neither must we let him have the impression of not 
being controlled : this would be to expose him to a 
temptation, all the greater in that his personal power 
of volition is weakened. 

Add to this, that we do not in the least know what 
influence the mental state of the experimenters has upon 
the medium, although some kind of influence appears to 
me to exist. We do not know to what extent an ill- 
founded certitude of fraud can be responsible for its 
birth. Ochorowicz says on this subject : — 


* After having recognised that the medium is only a 
mirror, who reflects and directs the ideas and nervous 
forces of the assistants towards an ideoplastic end, we 
will not be surprised to see that suggestion plays an 
important role therein. There is no doubt but that 
the assistants can suggest the desired act to the 
medium ; neither is it doubtful that the manifestations 
bear the stamp of surrounding beliefs. In a society of 
materialists I have seen " John " (with Eusapia Paladino) 
become dissolved into an impersonal force, which the 
medium simply called " questa forza," while in intimate 
spiritistic circles it took the form of deceased persons, 
more or less clumsily. In the same way, with con- 
trollers imbued with the idea of fraud as Messrs. 
Hodgson and Maskelyne were, the medium will 
remain under the empire of a suggestion of fraud.' 

Without completely sharing Ochorowicz's conviction, 
I have reasons for thinking that his theory comes very 
close to the truth. I have myself indicated how sug- 
gestible the personification is. 

There is something else. In cases where force is 
lacking, or is feeble, it is easier for the medium to 
obtain the phenomenon normally — that is to say, by 
fraud — rather than by veritable exteriorisation. I have 
remarked, that often the paranormal movement has to 
be normally simulated before it is supernormally realised. 
This is frequently the case with Eusapia. We can 
conceive how the movement of simulation can end in 
fraud, when the medium is in a hemisomnambulistic 

In short, the energy which sets an object in move- 
ment appears to me to be of nervous origin, and I 


believe it to be of the same nature as that which pro- 
vokes muscular contractions. Therefore, this is what 
follows : the force only becomes exteriorised if accumu- 
lated and wrought up to a sufficient tension. In pro- 
portion as its tension increases, so it tends to expend 
itself in the form of impulsive movements ; the medium 
must resist this tendency to be able to obtain the pure 
phenomenon. Therefore experimenters ought to keep 
the medium in this resistance, and not allow him facility 
for expending the energy which tends to realise itself in 
muscular movements. 

Such are the conclusions to which the observations I 
have made with several mediums have led me. Uncon- 
scious and involuntary fraud is frequent, and in order 
to avoid it, the conditions likely to favour it should be 
carefully put aside, especially in the beginning of a 
series of experiments, and when experimenting with 
an undeveloped medium. Medianity is powerfully 
influenced by acquired habits. 

There exists, finally, another kind of unconscious and 
involuntary fraud : that which is due to illusion. It is 
constantly found in spiritistic seances, where ninety-nine 
times out of a hundred mediums produce no real pheno- 
mena. They are, nevertheless, in earnest, but they do 
not take into consideration the role of memory and 
imagination. This is particularly the case with intuitive 
writing mediums and ' control ' mediums. With this 
order of phenomenon we rarely obtain verifiable 
indications ; the ' spirits ' utter plenty of commonplace 
generalities, but give no precise information. 

Fraud is a misnomer in this case : being unconscious 
and involuntary, it cannot, correctly speaking, be called 

2 B 


fraud ; therefore it is better to reserve the word 
' illusion ' for it. 

I cannot think of analysing the question of fraud in 
detail. If examined closely it is extremely complicated. 
But, like Richet, I deem ' it possible that in states 
bordering on trance, and in trance itself, the psychology 
of a medium may be very different from ours.' I con- 
fine myself simply to indicating the result of my reflec- 
tions, which are the fruit of a long series of observations. 
Let me renew my oft-repeated recommendation for 
avoiding fraud : Experiment with light, the greatest 
possible amount of light, and seek for simple pheno- 
mena, difficult, perhaps, to obtain, but easy to observe, 
such as raps and movements without contact. 


If I insist so much upon the necessity, especially in 
the beginning, of seeking only for phenomena observa- 
tion of which is easy, it is because error of observation 
is facile. We need to be much accustomed to seances 
to be able to distinguish rapidly between probable 
phenomena and those which are certainly tricked. It 
is with this, as with everything else, a question of time 
and reflection. 

One of the causes of error, which it is highly important 
to avoid, is obscurity. For many simple phenomena 
darkness is unnecessary ; therefore, from the very out- 
set, we should exhort the personification to accept light. 
I have already frequently said that personifications are 
very suggestible. I know well it is not always so, and 


that at times the personification displays much obstinacy. 
Personifications of this class are especially observed with 
mediums who have long-acquired habits. It was so 
with Eusapia, who was only accustomed to giving dark 
seances. But even when the personification appears to 
have very decided ideas, it is possible, with a little in- 
genuity, to induce him to change. It is with them as 
with secondary personalities, or subjects to whom we 
have given a suggestion. We must enter right into 
the circle of suggested ideas in order to break it ; it is 
a question of tact only. 

With Eusapia we succeeded in operating in a good 
light by appealing to ' John's ' vanity. We explained to 
him that obscurity stood in the way of the observation 
of the phenomena, that he was just as capable of working 
in the light as the ' guides ' of other mediums were. In 
this way, we lead him to change his habits with us ; the 
meno luce to which those who have experimented with this 
medium are accustomed, was still demanded, but only 
when the seance was well advanced. At Bordeaux, 
where there was a large bay-window in the seance-room, 
the reflection thereon from the lights burning in the 
kitchen and winter-garden enabled us to see a little. 
In that case, Eusapia or John did not desire total 
obscurity, and we always had this feeble light, allowing 
a visual control which was sometimes satisfactory. 

When we are lucky enough to meet with an un- 
developed medium, it is easy to give him the habit of 
operating in full light. This has occasionally happened 
to me. 

I need not enlarge upon the influence of obscurity 
upon error. With some very rare exceptions we can 


never be certain of the authenticity of a phenomenon 
obtained in a dark seance. 

Obscurity is, however, necessary for luminous pheno- 
mena. When once we have observed decided luminous 
forms, or really characteristic lights, it is easy to dis- 
tinguish between them and illusion. A cool, calm 
observer does not make a mistake ; it is not quite the 
same with excited experimenters. These latter give 
veritable suggestions to one another, and they end by 
having curious collective hallucinations. This is one of 
the most interesting facts of observation in spiritistic 
seances, so rich in purely psychological curiosities. I 
have frequently heard a sitter say that he saw a light 
in a given direction ; the others looked in their turn and 
also saw it. Then one declared he perceived a form ; 
soon others also saw a form. And from exclamation to 
exclamation the description of the form is completed. 
This is the genesis of a collective hallucination. 

I need hardly say, that experimenters who are so 
suggestible are not good elements : in purely scientific 
researches they should be reduced to a minimum. 

Personal experience has shown me, that of all the 
senses, that of sight is the most liable to imaginary 
impressions ; after sight, the sense of touch is the most 
prompt to receive illusion. There are constant examples 
of this in spiritistic seances ; the cool breeze^ which is 
often really felt, is more often only imaginary. One 
person says he feels it ; others at once imagine they feel 
it also. Sometimes it is not an error of imagination, 
but an error of attribution, the sensation of a cool breeze 
being caused by the breath. 

The sense of hearing has seemed to me to be refrac- 


tory to suggestion in seances, though it does not 
altogether escape. I know of very few examples of 
imagined raps or noises. 

On the contrary, the muscular sense is one of the 
most unfaithful. Unless one has experimented oneself, 
it is impossible to imagine how frequent unconscious and 
involuntary movements are. These movements are of 
very feeble amplitude ; they are slight, but they end by 
acquiring a certain amount of force. It will then be 
noticed that the assistants accuse each other reciprocally 
of pushing the table, and it is not rare to see angry 
discussions arise on these occasions. This is a frequent 
fact of observation. I have also very frequently noticed 
tactile hallucinations with impressionable experimenters, 
who easily imagine diverse contacts. 

The sense of smell sometimes perceives imaginary 
odours, but it is somewhat rare. I have not observed 
any hallucinations of taste. 

Another cause of error which requires pointing out is 
fatigue on the part of the experimenters. Every pheno- 
menon which is produced after a long period of waiting 
stands many chances of being badly observed. The 
attention kept for a long time on the qui vive becomes 
weary, gives place to abstraction, and often the pheno- 
mena takes the experimenters by surprise ; hence they 
are unable to examine the conditions with certitude. It 
is also bad to hold very long seances, fatigue quickly 
setting in. 

Such are the principal causes of positive errors ; that 
is to say, of errors tending to persuade one of the 
existence of an imaginary fact ; negative errors, that is 
to say, those which tend to make one look upon a real 


fact as an imaginary one, are not less dangerous than 
positive errors. 

In the first place, parti pris is to be pointed out. If 
we wish to experiment with success, we must experiment 
without credulity, without faith, even without confi- 
dence ; but we must not be determined only to meet 
with fraud. 

We must not experiment naively. If, at the beginning 
of a seance, it be useful to allow freedom in order to put 
the force en train^ as Ochorowicz wisely recommends, 
once the phenomena are established, we must control them 
with the greatest care. But we should make our in- 
tentions known to the medium and to the personification. 
This, I think, is an indispensable precaution. The 
personification will always consent to it ; but this does 
not mean we will always obtain the wished-for result. 
We must not allow the medium or the personification 
to think we are their dupes if they fraud ; we must 
tell them, gently but clearly, that they are not giving 
anything good. Equivocation is to be carefully avoided, 
all misunderstanding is to be shunned. 

We must not, however, place the medium under such 
conditions that the experiment cannot be realised. We 
do not understand these conditions, and, perhaps, appar- 
ently simple phenomena may not be realisable. I re- 
member that at Choisy in 1896, a lady, a member of my 
family — she has an insurmountable bias against psychical 
experiments, which she declares a priori are fraudulent — 
declared to Eusapia that she would believe in her pheno- 
mena, if she could make a doll's table move before her 
eyes. Eusapia placed this small table on top of the 
seance-table, but did not succeed in making it move. 


Why could not such an apparently simple phenomenon 
be obtained ? 

We must, therefore, observe, but we must not wish 
to impose beforehand the conditions which the pheno- 
menon should fulfil in order to be accepted. 

Many experimenters tie up the medium, put him into 
a sack, and seal him therein. If he consents to this, well 
and good ; if he refuses, other means of control must be 
found. We must not indeed suppose that the medium's 
refusal is always due to a desire to fraud. The slightest 
fetters may sometimes be very painful, especially when 
there be cutaneous hyperassthesia. 

Before bringing a negative judgment to bear upon the 
phenomena, the experimenters should always hold a 
certain number of seances, and should not found their 
judgment upon one bad seance alone ; by so doing they 
would expose themselves to a wrong course of action. 

It is especially in psychical experimentation that in- 
exhaustible patience is necessary. 



And now my task is accomplished. I perceive that in 
the latter part of my work, I have broached complex 
and difficult problems, and have allowed myself to be 
drawn into — not theorising — but combating certain 
theories which appear to me to be incorrect or insuffi- 
cient ; for which I beg my reader's pardon. In con- 
clusion, I wish to repeat that I am convinced of having, 
in a sure, positive manner, observed raps and movements 
without contact. I have seen many other phenomena ; 
but I will not venture to be so affirmative concerning 
them, at present. 

I make no pretension of demonstrating the reality of the 
facts I have observed. In publishing my conclusions, I have 
had but one object in view, that of bringing my testimony 
to those, who, long before me, attested to the facts which 
I in my turn affirm. Does that mean that I have not 
been mistaken ? most assuredly, no ! And it is very 
possible that my observations may have been imperfect. 
I am, nevertheless, so convinced of their exactness, that 
I can only advise those who may impugn the accuracy of 
my statements, to experiment as I have done, with the 
same method, and the same patience. I have had many 
occasions to pronounce these words in the course of my 
work, and now in terminating it, I pronounce them 
once again with stronger emphasis than ever. 


I doubt, though, whether my voice will be heeded, 
where others, more influential than mine, have remained 
unheard. However, I do not regret having expressed 
my opinion about these facts. I am persuaded, that 
some day, -perhaps very soon, they will come under 
scientific discipline, and this, in spite of all the obstacles 
which obstinacy and fear of ridicule accumulate in the 

One of these obstacles, and it is not the least, is due 
to the fashion in which many savants estimate mediums. 
Their judgment is summed up in such expressions as 
hysteric, cheat, physically or morally tainted, degenerates. 
Such a judgment is iniquitous, absurd and false in its 
generality, and baneful in its consequences. It is 
founded upon a deplorable error, for I know mediums 
who possess faculties superior to the average, and who 
present absolutely no stigma of degeneracy. I have 
said, and I cannot repeat it too often, my finest pheno- 
mena were obtained with subjects who were sound and 
healthy in mind and body. It is with hysterical subjects 
that we observe fraud, side by side with gleams of true 
phenomena ; but with a medium who has no nervous 
taint, whose well-balanced intelligence knows how to offer 
resistance to self-suggestion, and ridee fixe^ we have real 
phenomena or none at all. 

The opinion of savants, who, ill acquainted with the 
facts, inform us that mediums are hysterics and victims 
of nervous disorders, is therefore erroneous ; unfor- 
tunately the consequences of such an opinion are 
lamentable. I know many remarkable subjects who 
absolutely refuse to experiment outside a tested and 
restricted group, because they fear to be regarded as 


neurotics ; they are afraid of being stigmatised as insane, 
they are afraid of compromising their commercial posi- 
tion or their professional interests. I will never succeed 
in convincing them that they are above the average ; 
doubtless I will succeed still less in inducing others to 
believe it : though in many respects it be true. If the 
relative perfection of their nervous system renders these 
persons more sensitive than the average, it would be wrong 
to conclude thereupon, that they were degenerate speci- 
mens of humanity. This argument is lacking in common- 
sense ; we might just as reasonably insist that Europeans 
are in degeneration, because they are more emotional and 
more sensitive to pain than certain savage tribes. How 
ignorant, tactless, and incautious we are ! The attitude 
of certain learned centres — it is with intention that I do 
not say the most cultured — is, to me, similar to that of 
ecclesiastical authorities in the middle ages. The novelty 
of a thing frightens them. They treat independent 
scientific thought as the inquisitors treated free thought 
in days gone by. Like their prototypes of other times, 
they have the same intolerance, the same hate for schism 
and heresy. Their accumulated errors ought to make 
them cautious : but, no ! If they no longer make a 
pariah of the arch-heretic or schismatic, if they no 
longer deliver him up to the executioner, they treat him 
with the same relative vigour. They excommunicate 
him, in their fashion, and cast him out of sane healthy 
humanity as a degenerate, a mystic, an exalte. The 
future will have the same opinion of them as we have, 
to-day, of their predecessors. Their attitude prevents 
the most cultured, the most capable mediums from 
allowing their psychic faculties to become known. If 


these mediums spoke of visions, a douche would be 
recommended ! If they caused a table to move without 
contact, the words hysteria and fraud would be heard. 
Is it surprising they should hide their gifts ? 

We ought to consider mediums as precious beings, 
as forerunners of the future type of our race. Why 
should we only see degeneracy around us .'' Why should 
we not see superior beings ahead of us, beacons, as it 
were, on the route we have to follow ? Does not simple 
common-sense suggest that humanity has not yet arrived 
at perfection — that it is evolving to-day just as it has 
always been doing .? All men have not attained the same 
degree of evolution. As there are types representing 
the average state of former days, so there are advanced 
types representing to-day the average state of the future. 
The progress of the race seems to make for perfection 
along the lines of the nervous system, in the acquisition 
of more delicate senses, of greater nervous sensibility, 
and of vaster means of information. If the discovery of 
implements, new instruments of investigation, such as 
the telescope and microscope, for example, aid in the 
progress of the race, they are of no use for the evolution 
of the individual himself. Now, veritable progress is 
individual ; it is the improvement of the individual which 
assures the evolution of the race, and this progress should 
be determined by heredity. Do what we will, we shall 
never be born with a microscope at the eyes, and a 
telephone at the ears. Progress of this kind is not 
transmissible ; only physiological acquisitions are trans- 
missible. The sensibility of the nervous system of 
mediums is a progress on our relative obtuseness ; it 
is not the same thing with the bad sight of him who 


makes an improper use of the microscope. If Virchow 
were still alive, there would be many disagreeable things 
to be said to him, concerning the inaptitude of the 
ordinary type of savant to personify the desirable pro- 
gress of the race towards health, force, sensibility, and 
the perfect form. 

The intolerance of certain savants is equalled by that 
of certain dogmas. To take an example, Catholicism 
considers psychical phenomena as the work of the devil ! 
Is it worth while at this hour to discuss so obsolete a 
theory .? I think not. However, superior ecclesiastical 
authorities, with the tact and sentiment of opportunism 
which they often show, permit many Catholics to under- 
take the experimental study of psychical facts. I cannot 
blame them for recommending prudent abstention to 
the mass of the faithful ; spiritism appears to me to be 
an adversary with which they will have to reckon very 
seriously some day. The simplicity of its doctrines 
ensures it the clientele of simple souls enamoured of 
justice, that is to say, of the immense majority of 

But this question is foreign to psychical facts them- 
selves. As far as my experience permits me to judge 
of them, these phenomena contain nothing but what is 
natural. The devil does not show his hoof here, 
timorous souls may feel reassured ; if the tables claim to 
be Satan himself, they need not be believed ; summoned 
to prove his power, this grandiloquent Satan will be 
a sorry thaumaturgist. Religious prejudice, which pro- 
scribes these experiments as being supernatural, is just 
as little justified as scientific prejudice, which sees therein 
nothing but fraud and imposture. Here, again, the 


old adage of Aristotle finds its application : Justice lies 

May my book determine a few experimenters of 
goodwill to try to observe in their turn. May it help 
to dispel from the mind of gifted mediums their fears of 
being ranked with insane and disordered intelligences, 
or looked upon as being in partnership with the devil. 
May it especially contribute to make metapsychic 
phenomena come to be considered as natural facts, worthy 
of being usefully observed, and capable of enabling us 
to penetrate more deeply than any other phenomena into 
a real knov/ledge of the laws which govern Nature. 



An Appreciation on Certain Documents published 
on the subject of Fraud. 

The question of fraud is so important that I feel I should not 
only give the results of my own observations, but also my 
appreciation of some of the principal documents published on 
the subject. 

With the exception of Richet and a few others, representa- 
tives of science in France are very ill informed on this question, 
as I have endeavoured to show. They overlook the immense 
work which has been done in the United States and in England ; 
consequently it is very difficult to discuss the question with 
these savants, they are either ignorant or feign to be ignorant 
of what others have done. I have shown that their experiments 
are defective and their methods open to criticism. 

U all serious discussion be impossible with certain savants, it is 
not so with those who have taken the trouble to verify psychic 
phenomena for themselves. This is the case with the principal 
members of the Society for Psychical Research, Crookes, Lodge, 
Barrett, Myers, Sidgwick, Gurney, Podmore, Hodgson, Hyslop, 
and others. The first three are persuaded of the reality of the 
facts observed by them. The others have a tendency to attri- 
bute to fraud all physical phenomena ; they admit, on the other 
hand, intellectual phenomena, and explain them either by tele- 
pathy as Mr. Podmore does, or by the intervention of spirits 
as spiritists themselves do, though they were at one time the 
latter's adversaries ; this is notably the case with Myers, Hodgson, 
and Hyslop. The great respect I have for the remarkable men 
who direct the Society for Psychical Research, obliges me to 


examine their experiments very carefully, for their judgment has 
a great value in my eyes ; at the same time, I have too much 
regard for the research of truth to conceal from them the errors 
of experimentation, vi^hich they appear to me to have committed. 

In the fourth volume of the Proceedings vv^ill be found a series 
of papers by Mrs. Sidgwick, Messrs. Lewis, Hodgson, and Davey 
upon fraud. The last-named deal particularly with the produc- 
tion of direct slate-writing. This phenomenon is very easy to 
simulate ; it suffices to read the papers mentioned, especially 
Davey's document, to understand under what suspicious condi- 
tions the phenomenon was produced. 

A long time ago I myself artificially produced this kind of 
manifestation by fixing a pencil into a hole in the table, and 
thereupon moving the slate about. With practice a certain 
amount of facility can be acquired ; you can write fairly well 
and give regularity to apparently spasmodic and involuntary 
movements ; but only inexperienced or credulous people are 
taken in by this trick ; and though they may be more compli- 
cated, Mr. Davey's methods are not by any means more difficult 
to expose. 

I wonder how a man of Dr. Hodgson's intelligence could have 
based his judgment upon such superficial observations as those 
of the experimenters he cites. Here are men, without doubt 
honourable and well educated, who hold seances with the object 
of obtaining direct slate-writing through Mr. Davey. Instead 
of taking the elementary precaution of never abandoning their 
slates, they allow the medium to manipulate them, permit him 
to leave the seance-room for a moment, consent to allow other 
slates than their own to remain on the table at the same time as 
those which are used for the experiment, and lastly when they 
examine, only examine it on one side. This is not mal-observa- 
tion, it is absence of observation. (See R. Hodgson, ' Mr. Davey's 
Imitations by Conjuring of Phenomena sometimes attributed to 
Spirit Agency,' Proceedings^ vi. 253.) 

Mr. Davey has also produced raps and materialisations fraudu- 
lently. It is necessary to read, in Dr. Hodgson's paper, the 


conditions under which he operated to see what ill-placed con- 
fidence his co-experimenters had in him (Davey). They do not 
verify, although they are invited to do so, the contents of a 
trunk precisely where the material essential to fraud was con- 
cealed ; they allow Mr. Davey to close the door of the room : 
he gives two turns of the key, the one locking, the other 
unlocking the door, which is carelessly sealed with gummed 
paper; no one thinks of verifying if the door is well closed. 
The most elementary precautions are neglected by the assistants 
who, one would really think, had been chosen by Mr. Davey for 
their very credulity. Frauds as easy to prevent as those from 
which Dr. Hodgson draws his argument, cannot be considered 
as being able to take in a prudent, shrewd observer, accustomed 
to experimentation, and knowing how to preserve a little sang- 
froid. Was it not enough that the medium should have asked one 
of the observers : ' What do you want the spirit to write on the 
slate ? In what colour do you want the writing to appear ? ' for 
these very questions alone to suggest imposture ? Dr. Hodgson's 
argumentation is inoperative, and the faults, accumulated by the 
deceived observers whose impressions he cites, are excessive. 
One would think he had had to do with very convinced spiritists, 
inclined to admit a priori the reality of the forthcoming pheno- 
mena without troubling themselves about the precise conditions 
of their observations ; this is what the perusal of the reports of 
these seances makes one think, for I read textually (p. 296) : 
*It may be interesting to compare the reports given by 
spiritualists of a sitting with Mr. Davey with his account of 
what really occurred.' Can one draw an argument from these 
accounts of spiritists ? Some spiritists, convinced of the reality 
of the facts, appear to care very little indeed about any sort of 
control. To reason from their methods of observation, to 
generalise this reasoning and to extend it to all observers, is 
rather too easy a form of discussion. 

There are certain phenomena which lend themselves badly to 
observation : this is particularly the case with those which 
require obscurity and arrangements of a nature likely to hinder 


or interfere with the best control which can be exercised, that of 
the eyesight. In my opinion the phenomenon has no demon- 
strative value whenever it occurs out of sight, as is the case with 
slate-writing, when the slate is held under the table. Neither 
has it any great signification when it requires sustained observa- 
tion in order to control it. Errors are easy, for abstraction 
almost inevitably follows, if it does not accompany, sustained 
attention. Hodgson, in 'The Possibilities of Mal-Observation and 
Lapse of Memory from a Practical Point of View ' [Proceedings^ 
iv. 381) gives examples of this, but his paper only points out 
facts well known to those who are familiar with human testi- 
mony. In order to observe with a minimum chance of error, 
the phenomenon we intend to study should be simple, and 
repeated often enough to prevent the attention from becoming 
weary from waiting. P rom this point of view, the production 
of raps and telekinetic movements with the aid of the experi- 
mental manoeuvres I have described, permit, by specifying the 
moment when the phenomenon is going to occur, of bringing 
the whole attention to bear upon the examination of the con- 
ditions under which the phenomenon is obtained. Raps and 
movements without contact appear to me to lend themselves 
admirably to observation ; with these phenomena, by operating 
as I have indicated, experimentation is almost possible; but a 
veritable medium must be sought for in the first instance. 

Now this is what my colleagues of the Society for Psychical 
Research did, but they did so under conditions which were far 
from satisfactory, Mrs. Sidgwick, a woman of brilliant intellect, 
has given an account of the attempts made by herself, her 
husband, and friends to obtain psychical phenomena. They 
went to Eglinton and Slade for slate-writing, to the Misses 
Wood and Fairlamb and a Mr. Haxby for materialisations. 
The first two gave phenomena which were suspicious, not to 
say worse ; as for Haxby, he frauded shamefacedly. Mrs. 
Sidgwick's account is demonstrative on this point, and it is 
enough to read it to be convinced that no shrewd observer could 
be taken in. 

2 C 


The first mistake, committed by the distinguished members 
of the Sidgwick group, was to suppose that psychical phenomena 
can be obtained at will. Whenever a paid medium gives regular 
seances, there are a hundred chances to one of downright fraud. 
If there be a positive feature in these supernormal facts, that 
feature in my opinion is their apparent irregularity. I have 
been able to experiment with intelligent, well-educated mediums 
anxious for a thorough investigation of their powers : I have 
made very many experiments with them, and I have observed 
that often whole weeks passed away without a good seance ; 
at other times, the force was so abundant that phenomena 
were forthcoming without seance. I have related some curious 
facts in this respect, e.g. the table moving spontaneously in the 
course of a conversation bearing upon psychical phenomena 
(p. io6). 

What are the conditions which impede or favour the produc- 
tion of this unknown mode of energy ? I cannot specify them ; 
but I think I have noticed concordances, which confirm in a 
measure the conclusions of Ochorowicz [Annales des Sciences 
Psychiques, vi. 115) : — 

1. Action of temperature. Dry cold weather is the most 
favourable. Damp or close weather is most unfavourable. 

2. Health of the medium and sitters. If the medium does 
not feel well, things happen as though he exteriorised no force 
whatever. It is the same thing with the sitters, but in a lesser 
degree ; in the latter case it suffices to eliminate the experimenter 
who feels ill. 

3. Mental condition of the medium and sitters.^ Ill-humour, 
anxiety, sadness — especially a sadness without any specific cause, 
a kind of mental discomfort — are prejudicial. Joy, gaiety are 
often favourable. 

4. Nervous exhaustion. This condition is too often over- 
looked. I have not unfrequently had occasion to conduct several 
series of experiments at one and the same time. I generally 
noticed that the results were not good. I have not been able to 

1 There are apparent exceptions to this rule. 


understand the cause of this want of success ; it is probably other 
than that of simple nervous exhaustion, although this may have 
an action in prolonged series of seances. 

Neither do seances held too frequently with the same medium 
give good results ; in this case, nervous exhaustion is certainly 
in play. 

The English experimenters do not appear to have taken these 
diverse elements into consideration ; I am persuaded the results 
of their investigations would have been different had they 
shunned ' paid mediums,' and sought for fresh or undeveloped 
mediums, persons uninfluenced by private considerations, intelli- 
gent and capable of bringing a correct analysis of their subjective 
impressions into the research. These mediums are rare, but 
they are to be found. 

None of these conditions were fulfilled by the Sidgwiclc group. 
These experimenters, acting with the best of intentions, took a 
wrong course. Eglinton, Slade, Haxby, have perhaps been 
genuine mediums in their time, but as soon as they made it a 
business to give regular seances, they were at once prepared to 
give fraudulent phenomena with regularity. At Newcastle, the 
group operated at one and the same time with Miss Fairlamb 
and with Miss Wood. These two parallel series of experiments 
could not help being prejudicial one to the other, even if these 
two mediums had been honest, which does not appear to have 
been the case, judging from Mrs. Sidgwick's account. 

I cannot think of discussing in detail all the experiments of 
the Sidgwick group ; but I will study their experiments with 
Eusapia Paladino at Cambridge more carefully, for their judg- 
ment on this medium appears to me unjustified. Every one 
knows under what conditions Messrs. Myers, Hodgson, Sidg- 
wick, etc., invited Eusapia to England, in order to resume 
experiments previously made with her at Ribaud. These 
experiments had obtained a favourable report from Dr. Lodge ; 
Mr. Myers and Mr. Sidgwick associated themselves with Dr. 
Lodge's conclusions. Dr. Hodgson — who is a doctor of law 
and not a doctor of medicine, as some people suppose — criticised 


the experiments summarised by Dr. Lodge. He was met with 
the reply that his criticisms contained nothing new ; that what 
he said had been already pointed out by Richet and others, and 
that the experimenters were acquainted with every possible 
system of fraud ; that the substitution of one hanr" for another, 
the substitution of an artificial foot for the mediui s foot, were 
well-known systems of imposture, against which every pre- 
caution had been taken. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding 
the fact that the report had been drawn up by such competent 
men as Richet, Ochorowicz, Lodge, and Myers, it was criticised 
with an undeniable appearance of logic and justice by Hodgson : 
the latter reproached them for insufficiently describing the 
manner in which the diverse controls were ensured, for omitting 
to dwell upon the precautions which were taken, and for the 
lack of a minute description of all the movements of the medium. 
In his article [Journal^ vii. 49) he expressly says : — 

* Professor Lodge makes the following declaration concerning 
the raising of the table : — 

'"It appears to me impossible for any person to lift a table of 
this size and weight while standing up to it, with hands only 
on top, without plenty of leg action, and considerable strength 
and pressure of hands. It was quite beyond the possibility of 

' Now let us suppose,' continues Hodgson, ' that Eusapia 
used a form of support which, with some variation or 
other, I fancy is not altogether unknown in the Italian race. 
Let us suppose that she had, next to her body, a light strong 
band round her shoulders and across her chest, with a pendant 
attached of a black band or cord, with a hook or other catch at 
the end which could be tucked out of sight in her dress front 
when not in use. (By the way, in a photograph which I have 
seen of Eusapia at a sitting, when the table is supposed to be 
completely off the floor, one of the buttons of the bosom of her 
dress seems to be unfastened.) 

'She fixed this catch — either stooping or bending her legs 
slightly outward — to one of the sideboards of the table, or to 


some point in the neighbourhood of the junctures of, for ex- 
ample, sideboards and top of table. She straightened herself 
out, stiffened her shoulders and her body back, and pushed 
forward with her foot against the leg of the table, close to which 
she was standing. The light touch of one of her hands may 
have helped to steady the table, the edge of which may also have 
been in contact with her body. Was this hypothesis or any 
kindred hypothesis tested by Professor Lodge r ' etc. 

This long quotation shows how Hodgson reasons. Con- 
scientious savants omitted to indicate, explicitly, in their report, 
that every hypothesis of fraud had been studied and put to one 
side ; they omitted to analyse each hypothesis, because their 
implicit affirmation of the reality of the fact appeared sufficient 
to them, and a detailed examination of each hypothesis would 
have given exaggerated dimensions to their report. No matter. 
Analysts like Dr. Hodgson will not spare them, and will not 
hesitate to indicate hypotheses, even those the least compatible 
with the conditions of observation. 

However, the Cambridge experiments were decided upon, and 
although Hodgson had taken a decided stand in the matter, he 
was invited to assist. These experiments gave bad results, and 
Sidgwick was able to say, in spite of the contrary observations 
of other experimenters, who were his colleagues in the Society 
for Psychical Research {journal S. P. R.^ vii. 230) : ' It will 
be seen that at our last meeting a question was asked with 
regard to " phenomena " obtained by Eusapia Paladino sub- 
sequent to the exposure of her frauds at Cambridge. It may 
be well that I should briefly state why I do not intend to give 
any account of these phenomena. 

' It has not been the practice of the Society for Psychical 
Research to direct attention to the performances of any 
so-called " medium " who has been proved guilty of systematic 
fraud. Now, the investigation at Cambridge, of which the 
results are given in the "Journal for November 1895, taken 
in connection with an article by Professor Richet in the 
Annalcs des Sciences Psychiques, for January -February 1893, 


placed beyond reasonable doubt the facts that the frauds dis- 
covered (sic) by Dr. Hodgson at Cambridge, had been 
systematically practised by Eusapia Paladino for years. In 
accordance, therefore, with our established custom, I propose 
to ignore her performances for the future, as I ignore those of 
other persons engaged in the same mischievous trade.' 

Such a judgment made a considerable and lamentable stir : if 
it u^ere exact, it was just to pronounce it ; if it were not 
thoroughly exact, Sidgwick should have suspended his verdict. 
This is what Myers advised — this is what Lodge and Richet 
advised. But the experimenters who followed Hodgson's im- 
pulse did not do this. They made a mistake, and subsequent 
events have proved they were wrong. 

I have said that their judgment was not quite accurate. 
Professor Sidgwick said, addressing a general meeting of the 
Society for Psychical Research on the nth October 1895 
{Journal S. P. R., vii. 131) :— 

' I consider it to be proved beyond a doubt that the medium 
used systematic trickery throughout this series of sittings. Her 
modus operandi I will leave to Dr. Hodgson to describe, who — 
though only present during a part of the sittings — has had 
better opportunities for personally observing the actual process 
of fraud. When this trickery was discovered, the greater part 
of the phenomena offered as supernormal at these sittings were 
at once explained ; and, this being so, I think it, in the circum- 
stances, unreasonable to attribute — even hypothetically — to 
supernormal agency the residuum that was not so easily 
explicable. And considering the great general resemblance 
between the performances of the medium at these sittings and 
those I witnessed last year, I am now disposed to think that my 
earlier experiences are to be similarly explained ; I therefore 
wish to withdraw altogether the limited and guarded support 
which I gave last year to the supernormal pretensions of Eusapia 

So Sidgwick declares that his former experiments were null 
and void, as everything could be explained by trickery ! 


Hodgson, at that same general meeting, explained the means 
used by Eusapia, the surreptitious freeing of foot and hand, and 
some simple apparatus such as a handkerchief and a small object, 
such as a coin or a piece of paper, covered with some phos- 
phorescent preparation. Hodgson — and Myers reminded him 
of this — forgot to say that he had invented nothing, and that 
these trick devices had been discovered and previously pointed 
out by others, notably by Richet, who has often experimented 
with Eusapia Paladino. Sidgwick remarks that a portion of the 
phenomena are not easily explicable by fraud. It would have 
been interesting to know which. I suspect that certain levita- 
tions were among the number of these phenomena. But the 
notes published in the "Journal S. P. R., vii. 148, only 
mention attoiichetnents^ and it is advisable to limit the discussion 
to this fact, though it appears to me the least demonstrative. 

Let us take the seance of the ist September. We read p. 153 : 
'7.25. — R. H. says, phenomenon preparing. Enormous hand 
shaking Mrs. Mh head^ hand clearly felt. H. S., hand well held, 
but not completely. R. H. has hand completely held, gap and 
then grasp again. Hand holds H. S. well. Right hand, thumb 
and finger clutch R. H. (On nearly all occasions after the first 
few hand-touch phenomena, I informed the sitters of a coming 
phenomenon in some such words as that a phenomenon was 
preparing, before the phenomenon actually occurred, and usually 
immediately prior to its occurrence. I made this announcement 
as a rule when I felt the right hand leaving mine, but some- 
times when I felt it preparing to leave. After the phenomenon 
was over, and the hand returned, I described usually what I felt 
at the moment of my description, so that E. might not become 
aware, through some partial appreciation of my English, that I 
knew that her hand was away from mine during the production 
of the phenomenon. In some cases, when it was necessary, I 
added a few words about the state of holding during the pheno- 
menon.) ' 

I confess that I do not understand. Hodgson has shown him- 
self so severe for others, that he will not be annoyed with me 


for exacting the same precision from him that he requires of 
others. Now, in the passage quoted, we read : first, that Mrs. 
Myers is touched by an enormous hand, a hand which is 'clearly 
felt.' Either it is Eusapia's hand, released by Hodgson, in which 
case it ought to be 5;«(?//, for Eusapia's hand is small, or Mrs. 
Myers did not ' clearly feci ' the hand which shook her. If Mrs. 
Myers has correctly described her impression, then Hodgson 
makes a mistake in seeming to indicate that it is Eusapia's hand 
which touched Mrs. M. ; if not, then Mrs. M. has made a 
mistake. At any rate, there is a contradiction here between the 
two observers. 

Sidgwick acknowledges that Eusapia's tricks do not explain 
everything, yet he allows Hodgson to expatiate complacently 
upon fraudulent attouchcments. The learned lawyer even 
mimicked Eusapia's tricks for freeing her hands and feet before 
members of the Society for Psychical Research. But all this was 
already known by Continental specialists. Hodgson had invented 
nothing; why did he confine himself to partial criticisms? why 
did he not discuss each fact, and especially those which appeared 
inexplicable ? He is very severe with Eusapia ; why not treat her 
as he treats Mrs. Piper ? He carefully discusses the Neapolitan's 
errors and attempts ; but does he think that there is no conscious 
or unconscious fraud with the American medium, and that defunct 
Phinuit is alone responsible for the inaccuracies and falsehoods 
observed in Mrs. Piper's mediumship, whilst Eusapia's fraud is 
conscious and voluntary ? 

As far as his experiments with Eusapia Paladino are concerned, 
I will reply to him that, in a great measure, he and his friends were 
responsible for her frauds, and almost wholly responsible for the 
failure of the experiments. They appear to have neglected the 
psychological side of a medium's role, and forgot that a medium 
is not a mechanical instrument. 

Eusapia was not at her ease, and, if my memory serves me 
right, she found the Cambridge centre rather disdainful and 
haughty, save Mr. and Mrs. Myers. She was dull and lonely. 
I think she was not admitted to the same table. But I will not 


affirm this detail ; it seems to me she told me, she was usually 
served apart from the members of the household. 

The seances were too numerous (there were twenty seances 
held in less than seven weeks — a seance every other day) if we 
take into consideration her not being very well, and consequently 
unfit for anything for a few days. This was making sure of 
bad results, especially as the seances sometimes lasted two and 
a half to three hours. It was impossible for the medium to 
recruit her strength physically or morally, especially in a country 
where the manners, life, language, and even the cooking were 
so different from those at Naples. She was not well when in 
England. Was she long ill ? I cannot say ; but I can affirm 
that she did not go home satisfied. 

It appears, however, that the first seances were pretty good ; 
there were some suspicious things, as is often the case with 
Eusapia. Hodgson's arrival changed everything : it was then 
that fraud was discovered, but a long time after Richet and 
Toselli had pointed it out. 

How did Hodgson go to work ? He appears to have con- 
ceived the singular idea not to control Eusapia at all, and to 
leave at her free disposal the hand he was supposed to hold. 
Every time he ceased to feel the contact of her hand, he announced 
a phenomenon ; the phenomenon produced, he related his im- 
pressions in English to his co-experimenters. These were two 
capital mistakes. The first passed even unconscious fraud : for 
though severe control sometimes stops the phenomena, at least 
it effectually prevents trickery. The second, by arousing 
Eusapia's jealous susceptibility, was bound to worry and irritate 
her. These considerations may appear to be secondary to persons, 
who are not acquainted with the difficulties which the observa- 
tion of psychical phenomena present ; those who are familiar 
with them will not gainsay me. However, if the Cambridge 
experimenters had not gone any further than this, we might 
excuse them, and simply consider they had blundered touching 
the necessary conditions ; but they went further. They invited 
to the seances Messrs. Maskelyne, father and son. These men, 


the well-known directors of the Egyptian Hall in London, have 
made it a speciality of producing by conjuring the phenomena 
called 'spiritistic' 

Mr. Maskelyne, senior, did not conceal his bias, to judge by 
his letters in the Daily Chroiticle (29th Oct. 1895, and following 
days). This conjurer explained certain levitations in a singular 
fashion. A small table had been carried on to the seance-table. 
According to Maskelyne, Eusapia had seized it with her teeth 
by bending backwards, and by this feat of dental strength had 
herself carried and placed the smaller table on the larger one ! 
Mr. Maskelyne felt the movement, just as Dr. Hodgson 
felt he had lost the contact of the hand, when a phenomenon 
was going to be produced. From this negative observation, 
Mr. Maskelyne, like Hodgson, deducts the positive conclusion, 
that the phenomenon was normally and fraudulently produced. 
I retain Mr. Maskelyne's affirmation, that the backward 
movement Eusapia made when the small table was carried on 
to the larger one, revealed her method to him. Hodgson 
has the same impression as the conjurer. In concluding as 
they do, they both forget this circumstance, often observed 
with the Italian medium, that synchronous movements of her 
limbs accompany the phenomenon. If Mr. Maskelyne is ex- 
cusable in not having studied and examined this circumstance, 
Dr. Hodgson, well acquainted with psychical matters, is un- 
pardonable in having neglected it. This omission is a funda- 
mental gap in his reasoning ; and I think it robs it of all serious 

Let us take another example in the rare indications given by 
the Cambridge experimenters (Extracts from report of seance 
of ist Sept. 1895, y^z/rw*?/, vii. 1 51-153): — [' The Report consists 
of notes taken by Mr. Myers at the time from the dictation of 
the sitters, with supplementary statements added by some of 
the sitters afterwards ; these are placed in square brackets, and 
all except those to which Mrs. Sidgwick's initials are appended 
were written by Dr. Hodgson on Sept. 2nd and 3rd. The 
italics refer to the descriptions of phenomena, the ordinary type 



to the conditions of holding, etc.]. [Sitters arranged as 
follows : — 

F. D. Mrs. S. 

E. P. 

Miss S. 

R. H. 

H. S. 

^ Mrs. Myers goes under the table, has the medium's feet on 
palms of hands far apart.] 

' 7. 6. Three knocks [which sounded as if made on the top of 
the table]. Right hand lies across R. H. and holds H. S.'s three 
fingers with at least two. Left hand holds F. D. and Mrs. S. 
Three movements made with left hand beforehand. Knees not 
moved and feet held tight. [Medium was asked to repeat this 

*7. 7. Three knocks^ rather loud and dull [resembling the pre- 
ceding]. Right hand moving, holding H. S.'s and R. H.'s. 
Left hand well off the table ; holding satisfactory, held by F. D. 
and Mrs. S. Feet well held, knees not moved. 

' [Both series of three knocks were doubtless produced by 
Eusapia's head. On the second occasion, I succeeded in getting 
her head between me and a slight light from the curtains behind, 
and observed the motion of her head part of the way forward 
and back. She moved her right hand, with H. S.'s hand and 
mine, forward, outward, and upward somewhat, and possibly 
made a similar movement with her left hand, thus giving herself 
a free space to bend her head forward and down, and at the same 
time having the hands which were holding hers, in a position 
from which it would be more difficult to grab.] [And had 
practically six hands out of the way of an accidental contact with 
her head. E. M. S.].' 


Such is the prous-vcrhal. Dr. Hodgson, I repeat, has been so 
severe with others, that he will forgive me for being exigent 
with him. 

Is it admissible to reason in this way ? to consider that she 
has, perhaps^ made a movement with the left hand similar to the 
one effected with the right hand, and afterwards to hold that 
supposition as a demonstrated fact ? Should he not have remem- 
bered that such a movement, in a big woman like Eusapia, cannot 
be easily made without her arms betraying the movement of the 
spinal column, and the muscles of the neck, without the knees 
revealing the movement of the body ? 

Now, the knee did not move ; and Hodgson points out no 
movement of the arm. 

The movement of the head might have been one of those 
synchronous movements of which I have spoken. Dr. Hodgson 
has omitted to consider this hypothesis. 

To sum up, limiting ourselves simply to published docu- 
ments, we see that the English experimenters paid no attention 
to the conditions under which it is expedient to operate, that 
they tired out the medium, surrounded her with elements 
of suspicion, encouraged her to fraud — Dr. Hodgson especially 
— and finally concealed from her the severe judgment they 
had formed about her. As Richet says, the Cambridge 
experiments prove only one thing, which is, that in that 
particular series of seances Eusapia frauded with her well- 
known methods, but it is rash to conclude thereupon that she 
has always frauded.^ 

^ ' A Cambridge Eusapia pendant une sifrie de se'anccs afraude' a'vcc ses precedes connus, 
Voila la premiere conclusion. Et voici la seconde. En mettant Eusapia dans rimpossi- 
hilite' de frauder, pendant cette meme se'rie d'expe'ricnces de Cambridge, Eusapia n^a pas pu 
produire un seul phenomene •vrai . . , 

'II me parait qu'il est temeraire de conclure que tous les phenomenes produits ou 
presumes produits par Eusapia sent faux, . . . Sous des influences morales et psycho- 
logiques dont la nature nous echappe, pendant un tres long temps Eusapia est incapable 
de pouvoir exercer une action vraie quelconque, et peut-etre, a Cambridge elle s'est 
trouvee dans ces conditions . . . J'en conclus qu'il n'y a encore rien de demontre, ni 
dans un sens, ni dans I'autre, et qu'il faut courageusement poursuivre la recherche ; et 
experimenter encore.' — Charles Richet. {Journal S, P. R., vii. 1 79.) 



The analysis of the documents published permits me to 
ascertain : — 

1. Demonstration of fraud in certain hypothetical cases. 

2. Omission to indicate if the medium was conscious or in 


3. Omission to discuss phenomena non-explicable by fraud. 

4. Apparent contradiction between Dr. Hodgson's state- 

ments and those of other experimenters. 

5. Omission to analyse if Eusapia's suspicious movements 

were not muscular movements synchronous with the 
phenomena. This omission is capital, and demon- 
strates the relative inexperience of the Cambridge 

6. Evident bias of Dr. Hodgson, who had taken up a 

decided stand, and treated Eusapia's phenomena as 
fraudulent before having seen them. 

In a word, the Cambridge experimenters operated under bad 
conditions : they could not obtain any good results by acting as 
they did. But, even under these wretched conditions, they 
ought to have received some veridical phenomena, and the 
reading of their publications leads us to presume they did receive 
some. In any case, their report does not demonstrate that 
everything was explicable by fraud, and is not sufficient to 
justify the sweeping judgment they brought to bear upon 
Eusapia Paladino. 

Now, if we compare the Cambridge results with those ob- 
tained by other experimenters, the conclusion we draw from 
these documents becomes more precise. I refer my readers to 
the reports of the experiments at Milan [Ann. des Sc. Psych. ^ 
1893), ^"^ ^^ I'Agnelas [Ibid. i8g6). I will only dwell upon my 
personal experience with Eusapia. I experimented with this 
medium in 1895, 1896, and 1897, '^"'^ ^ obtained undeniable 
phenomena with her. 

Like other Continental experimenters, I tried to put Eusapia 
at her ease, to win her confidence and sympathy ; and the 
results of my seances were convincing. 


At I'Agnelas, out of seance hours, and in full light, I saw the 
table raised to the height of my forehead. Every one was 
standing up, Eusapia's hands were held and seen ; her left hand, 
held by me, rested on the right angle of the table. 

At Choisy, in 1897, we received doubtful phenomena, notably 
the apport of a carnation which appeared most suspicious to us ; 
but we spoke openly of our doubts to Eusapia. At other times 
the phenomena were of extraordinary intensity. One afternoon, 
Sunday, nth October, all the sitters, even those furthest away 
from the medium, were touched. 

But it was at Bordeaux, perhaps, in 1897 that the phenomena 
were most intense. I find in my notes — which are not, and 
make no claim to be, reports — the following recital : — 

' P. is vigorously touched. Eusapia gives him the control of her 
hands and feet. P. receives slaps in the back every time Eusapia 
presses his foot. The noise is distinctly heard. P.'s chair is 
shaken and drawn from under him, Eusapia rubs her feet on 
the floor, to give fluid, she says. Finally P.'s chair is slowly 
carried on to the seance-table. The persons (Dr. Denuce, 
Madame A., and I) for whom P. is between the table and the 
window (a light from outside streams through the Persian 
shutters) see the chair very clearly outlined on the window (a 
large bay, six feet wide). After having been placed on the 
table, the chair is taken back to the floor, and, a second time, 
carried on to the table. The movements were slowly produced ; 
while they were being produced, the hands, feet, and head of the 
medium were under control. If any part of the medium's body 
had touched the chair, the contact would have been seen on the 
silhouette of the chair, the latter standing out well against the 
lighted-up window. While the chair is in movement P. is 
crouching down on his heels ; he is touched on the back, his 
garments are pulled, he is tickled ; at the same time the table is 
levitated. These three 7nanifestations tvere produced shnultaneously^ 
This phenomenon is, perhaps, the most convincing Eusapia 
has given me in demi-obscurity ; it was impossible to produce 
these three manifestations simultaneously with a free hand and 


foot (admitting there had been substitution) : knowing the 
possible frauds, I had indicated to my co-experimenters Eusapia's 
ordinary tricks. Moreover, Dr. Denuce and P., a barrister at 
Bordeaux, were both an courant with the usual frauds, and were 
experienced experimenters. I draw special attention to the 
visibility of the chair suspended in the air. We only saw the 
outline of the chair, but we saw it plainly. 

Here is another levitation obtained under conditions which 
exclude every device pointed out by Messrs. Hodgson and 
Maskelyne : teeth, strap, hook, foot, hand holding the table, 
pressure of the knees, etc. : — 

'Afterwards Eusapia makes us get up. She pulls the table 
into the centre of the room (telling us she is doing this herself). 
She invites M. to hold her feet j M. goes under the table. 
Eusapia becomes impatient, and says to him " dietro " because the 
table would hurt her ; M. stoops down behind Eusapia, and 
seizes her by the feet. Eusapia then says she is going to raise 
the table without touching it. A circle is made around the 
table, which, after several oscillations, rises up vertically. The 
top of the table reaches as high as our foreheads. 

' A second time the table is levitated under the same conditions, 
and to the same height. The experimenters are all standing up 
around the table, and no hand at all touches it.' 

The table stood out plainly against the window. It would 
have been easy to see the limb or instrument which was in 
contact with it, had there been any such contact. 

Professor Sidgwick 'often asked Eusapia — or rather John — to 
favour him with a hand-grasp when he was holding the two 
hands of the medium in his two hands, since he regarded this as 
the only mode of holding the hands which could ever be per- 
fectly satisfactory to him.' He solicited in vain. Now we 
obtained this phenomenon frequently : — 

'Eusapia takes Dr. D.'s two hands, and gives him her two 
hands to control. Under these conditions Dr. D. is touched. 
Eusapia does the same thing with P., who is several times 


Here are some phenomena obtained with a bright green light. 
' One side of the table rises up, followed by two good levitations ; 
the table is levitated to a height of about one foot six inches, and 
remains from two to three seconds in the air. Eusapia's hands 
are well controlled and visible ; her feet do not move. The 
feet of the table (visible to me) are not in contact with Eusapia's 
dress during the levitation. I see the dress distinctly ; it is 
motionless. When the levitation took place no hand was 
touching the table.' 

Finally, here is a crucial experiment, an account of which 
M. de Rochas has published in the Annates des Sciences Psychiques 
in 1898. At that moment I still suspended my judgment, not 
that my opinion with regard to the phenomena produced by 
Eusapia and verified by me was uncertain, but because I wished 
to study other mediums before pronouncing my judgment. My 
studies are now sufficiently complete, from the point of view of the 
observation of these facts, to permit me to declare my opinion. 
The reasons of prudence, which led me to beg M. de Rochas to 
withhold my name from his report, no longer exist. Here is the 
extract from my notes made at the time of the experiment : — 

'I had bought, during the day, a letter-balance, which I 
brought to the seance. Eusapia makes us sit for two or three 
minutes with our hands on the table. Then she approaches her 
hands to the letter-balance, placing her left hand on top of 
Dr. D.'s right hand. Dr. D. mentions the sensation of a cold 
breeze, which ceases and recommences. Eusapia's hands are at 
about fifteen centimetres away from the letter-balance. She 
makes two or three ascending and descending movements with 
her hands, palm directed downwards. At the second movement 
the letter-balance is pushed to the limit of its course, requiring 
for this a force of more than one hundred and seventy grammes. 
Eusapia takes P.'s left hand, and tries the experiment with him. 
She asks if he feels the cool breeze. In a few seconds P. feels it 
over the third and fourth fingers. (P.'s left hand is under the 
medium's right hand.) The tray is lowered, and the hand stops 
at the division 20. 


'Eusapia takes Dr. D's hand again. She forms a triangle 
with her hands. Dr. D. has always his right hand in Eusapia's 
left. The latter's hands are about fifteen centimetres away from 
one another, and about ten centimetres away from the edge of 
the apparatus. The tray of the latter is lowered ; the hand 
marks 90 grammes, and sloiuly returns to o ; in the two pre- 
ceding experiments it had returned abruptly. 

' Eusapia tries to raise the scale. She directs her hands palms 
upwards. The scale raises itself. 

' P. puts a black pocket-book weighing seventy grammes on 
the tray. Eusapia begins the last experiment over again. After 
two or three movements of her hands, palms upwards, the tray 
is raised to its uttermost limit.' 

These experiments were made in a good green light. 

In conclusion, we never hesitated to act openly with Eusapia, 
telling her what we thought. For example, at one time, in 
obscurity, Eusapia drew the table to her without announcing 
it was she who did it. P. immediately said : 'It is the medium 
who's drawing the table.' Eusapia was not annoyed, and said 
that P. was right to speak of what he noticed. 

These experiments at Choisy and Bordeaux, in the course of 
which there were both good and bad seances, convinced me that 
I had not been the victim of illusion at I'Agnelas in M. de Rochas' 

My judgment will convince no one. In such matters we 
must see for ourselves in order to be convinced. Mr. Hodgson 
himself knows this to-day. My testimony contradicts formally 
and explicitly the conclusions of the Cambridge investigators. 
Eusapia does not always defraud ; with us, she rarely defrauded. 

Let me terminate this discussion with Richet's words : ' Mal- 
gre les apparences qui sont en effet souvent centre Eusapia, je 
ne suis fixe en aucune maniere sur ce que j'ai appele jusqu'ici 
fraude. ... II est possible, que dans I'etat de trance, ou dans 
les etats voisins, la psychologie d'un medium soit tres difFerente 
de la notre.' 

2 D 



I HAVE criticised somewhat lengthily M. Janet's opinions : 
will the reader kindly allow me to make yet another incursion 
into scientific ground. For it is perhaps necessary to reply to 
some objections which are advanced — doubtless in all sincerity 
— by certain savants who are either ill informed, or lacking in 
adequate knowledge of the subject. Professor Grasset of the 
university of Montpellier, for whose talent and earnestness I 
have the greatest respect, has just published a long article entitled 
Le Spiritisme et la Science in the last volume of his Lemons de 
clinique medicale (t. iv., 1903, p. 374). He begins by stating 
that he is going to take Janet as his guide, because the latter's 
' luminous ideas are and remain for him the sole scientific basis 
now existing of these questions.' Though we see it in print, 
this assertion is so extraordinary, that we wonder if we be not 
dreaming when reading it. Professor Grasset, then, is going to 
take Janet as a guide, Janet who has never seen anything ! It 
makes one think of the fable, only, this time, it is the blind man 
who climbs on the paralytic's back. Grasset is going to deal 
with matters of such importance, so prolific probably in new 
and unexpected consequences, without consulting the writers 
who have described the phenomena he is going to study ! The 
authors from whose works he quotes — Jules Bois, Papus, 
Peladan, Mme. de Thebes, Leo Taxil ! — have more to do with 
the charms of fancy than with the gravity of science. The 
task of refuting their assertions is far too easy a one, and the 
learned professor ought to have chosen other and better repre- 
sentatives of psychical research. His argumentation falls short 
of the mark. 

Professor Grasset's case is, however, instructive. I consider 
him as one of our best-informed scientists, and he seems to look 
upon psychical research without prejudice. Nobody can doubt 


his earnestness, his learning, his talent ; but, in spite of these 
qualities, he shows himself to be unfamiliar with the serious 
work which has been done, and which is being done in psychical 
matters. When he quotes Myers, he misquotes him. When 
he discusses the Piper case, he sums up the account given of the 
case by M. Mangin in the Annales des Sciences Psychiques^ and 
does not say a word of the careful reports drawn up by Hodgson 
and Hyslop. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if the 
professor's statements do not agree with the facts. He does 
not appear to have studied either the original reports or 
M. Sage's remarkable summary of these reports. 

Professor Grasset simply says : ' Four months after the death 
of Mr. Robinson (George Pelham), Mrs. Piper gave a seance in 
the house of one of Mr. Robinson's friends and fell into a trance.' 
[A slight mistake, the seance took place at Mrs. Piper's.] ' P., the 
secondary personality, said that George Robinson was ready to 
communicate ; and henceforth this spirit took part in Mrs. 
Piper's seances as another familiar spirit. Such an example 
shows how polygonal incarnations are formed during the medium's 

And no more ! Professor Grasset does not see the real 
problem : did the medium show any knowledge of facts known 
only to the deceased ? This is the problem. The mode of 
formation of the secondary personality is but an accessory 

This kind of reasoning is common to savants. They keep 
aloof from the real psychological problem, and only discuss its 
side issues. I am sorry to see a man of Professor Grasset's 
worth fall into the usual errors, and pronounce a judgment upon 
facts before thoroughly acquainting himself with those facts. 

Professor Grasset speaks of sp'iritisme scientifique as belonging 
to the realm of biology, and demanding the serious attention of 
scientists. But why speak of spiritism ? Spiritism is a religion, 
it is not a science ; it is the systematic explanation of the ensemble 
of certain facts, so far very ill understood, but it is not the 
assertion of those facts. Are the alleged facts true ? That is 


the question which biology has to examine. Spiritism, on the 
contrary, that is to say, the ensemble of metaphysical doctrines 
founded upon the revelations of spirits, cannot be considered, 
at least for the present, as belonging to biology. I beg 
Professor Grasset not to confound the impartial, unbiased 
research for scientific truth with spiritism. 

The little influence which the criticism of savants — of even 
the most renowned among them — has had upon contem- 
porary thought [e.g. it has not been able to prevent or put a 
stop to the quest in the domain of psychical sciences), is due 
precisely to their lack of correct information. They have 
always reasoned beside the question, analysing the facts im- 
perfectly, admitting only those which they can easily explain, 
and rejecting all others as fraudulent or doubtful. To those 
who have studied these ' fraudulent and doubtful ' facts, they are 
neither doubtful nor fraudulent ^ and the only effect, which the 
obstinate negation of certain savants has, is to rob their words of 
all serious influence and value. And this is a pity, for the 
savants themselves first of all, and afterwards for the public who, 
ill enlightened, become the prey of charlatans or the victims of 


It is to the kindness of M. Braunschweig that I owe the 
following story, which is instructive from several points of view. 
M. Braunschweig, a retired business man, intelligent and 
highly educated, is well known in his town. The phenomena, 
of which he guarantees the authenticity, have not been observed 
by me j but the disastrous consequences of his and M. Vergniat's 
too great confidence in a 'spirit ' taught him such a useful and 
serious lesson, that I thought I would do well to make it known. 


I only give it with that object, for I cannot personally vouch for 
the extraordinary facts in this interesting recital. I give this 
recital in extensov^ithont changing anything, in order not to alter 
its physiognomy. 

A Mystery 

Canius Junius when walking to the scaffold said to his friends: ' You ask me 
if the soul is immortal ; I am going to find out, and if I can, I will return 
to tell you/ 

These notes, written in haste, and, as it were, off-hand, have no 
other claim than to bring a few strange facts together, leaving 
every one free to appreciate them as they think best. 

For a while I was swayed by a preoccupation ; I hesitated in 
the face of incredulity, which thrusts aside all which is neither 
matter nor number, to unveil phenomena of the nature of those 
which have been verified by so many persons already ; but the 
duty imposed upon me of preserving my children from trials 
similar to mine, has triumphed over my hesitation, and I will 
proclaim the truth without any fear of their ever doubting their 
father's veracity. 

In writing these lines, I yield to a feeling that the witness of 
mysterious facts ought to give, in the interests of humanity or 
science, a scrupulously exact narration of what he has seen. 
And particularly so when his revelations are likely to preserve 
the inexperienced from the pitfalls of an occult power which it 
would be as senseless to deny the existence of as to doubt of its 
power for good or evil, according as it desires good or evil. I 
therefore accomplish what I believe to be a duty. This con- 
viction suffices to brave the spirit always more or less strong, 
which is ever inclined to deny what it cannot explain. 

The fear of being accused of seeking for sympathy, by relat- 
ing these facts of which I have been the victim, might also 
have stopped me from speaking ; but for the loss of a few 
worldly goods, my mind, my soul, finds ample compensation in 


that certitude of a future life, which results from the facts the 
Master permitted me to witness. 

It was in 1867. Attracted by the noise of a trumpet, I 
crossed La Place Saint-Andre^ and went down the dark, narrow 
street which, at that time, skirted the Cathedral, and where 
bric-d-hrac dealers used to spread out their wares. At the 
corner of the street Palangues, I came across a crowd gathered 
around an auctioneer who was holding a sale of statuary. 

I was passing on indifferently when the auctioneer held up a 
statuette, the outlines and graceful pose of which immediately 
struck my fancy. 

Was it a Virgin ? A 7nater dolorosa ? I do not know. But 
I still see that beautiful face, stamped with sadness, the eyes 
upraised, two great tears tremblingly seeming to implore me to 
put a stop to this profanation. The general appearance of the 
statue — its head bent slightly forward — and the graceful drapery 
denoted a work of art. 

I bought it, yielding simply to the desire of possessing an 
artistic work, and not to satisfy any religious sentiment, which, 
I must own, did not exist. 

I also bought a bracket to support the statuette, and a few 
minutes afterwards, everything was arranged in my room, Rue 
du Palais Tallien, No. 147. 

My wife, Madame Vergniat, was at Perigord. When she 
returned home, she was surprised to see, in the most conspicuous 
spot in my room, a religious object which I myself had bought. 

Her surprise was legitimate, for strong prejudices against 
religion left little room in my mind for religious practices. 

Nothing strange happened in that house, although we lived 
in it for a long time after the purchase of the statuette. But I 
always felt such great pleasure in admiring my Virgin, that I 
have often wondered whether this ill-defined attraction were 
not the prelude, and, in some measure, a first influence of the 
mysterious facts which were going to happen. 

We left our residence in the Rue du Palais Tallien to go to a 
house I had bought in the Rue Malbec, No. 116. 


It was a detached house surrounded by a garden ; it contained 
two bedrooms, a sitting-room, and a vestibule which served as 
a dining-room. 

In order to make my recital intelligible, I am obliged to give 
a i&w details about the furniture and its arrangement. 

A night-table separated my bed from the fireplace. Above 
the table was a holy-water fount ; above the latter an oil 
painting representing the Virgin ; finally, near the ceiling, the 
statuette on its bracket. 

To the left of the night-table, in the recess beside the chimney, 
there was a panoply composed of swords and sabres. 

When we were settled, Madame Vergniat again visited 
Perigord. It was during her absence that the first manifestation 
took place, but I attached no great importance to it. 

Here are the circumstances under which the phenomenon 

I was awakened in the night by the sound of a violent blow 
as of some one hammering at the front door. I promptly lit the 
candle, and looked at the time ; it was one o'clock. 

This visit was not of a reassuring nature, for, to be able to 
knock at the front door at this hour of the night, it was neces- 
sary to leap over the gate, which, securely closed, barred access 
to the house. 

Before proceeding to open the door, I waited for a second 
knock, but in vain. I was awakened, at the same hour on the 
following night, by a similar rap. 

The nurse, sleeping with the children in the next room, 
hearing the knock, got frightened. I tried to reassure her by 
saying : ' To-ymrrow a loaded gun will receive the individual who 
takes iuch a pleasure In arousing us.^ 

I underline these words, because further on we will have occa- 
sion of seeing them repeated in a surprising manner. 

A few months later, and without any new incidents occurring 
in the meantime, our nurse was discharged, and replaced by a 
strong healthy girl from the Pyrenees. 

The nocturnal visit had been quite forgotten, when on the 


23rd January 1868, Madame Vergniat and the nurse, who 
were busy in my room, heard something like a rustling on the 
window-panes, and saw the statuette bow twice, as though 
saluting them. At first they thought an earthquake had hap- 
pened, and when I entered they related the incident to me in 
scared tones. 

The statuette was indeed displaced ; but was that sufficient 
to convince me ? No. 

I laughed at the story, convinced that my wife and the nurse 
were victims of an illusion. 

However, on the morrow and following days, the same phe- 
nomena occurring at the same hour, that is to say towards 
eleven o'clock in the morning, I determined to stay at home 
and verify de visu this marvellous fact. 

I got what I wanted ; for on that day, the statuette turned 
about now to the right, now to the left, twelve or fourteen times. 
Sometimes it advanced and balanced itself on the edge of the 

The evolution was so prompt and so unexpected, that the eye 
could scarcely follow the movement. 

I was not long in ascertaining that, before executing these 
movements, the mysterious power awaited the moment when 
the attention, tired of remaining on the qui vive^ was off its 
guard. Then a sharp sounding rap, similar to the discharge of 
an electric spark, denoted that the evolution had taken place. 

The picture hanging under the statuette lost its equilibrium, 
the benitier fell over, and the swords swayed about like so many 
clock pendulums. 

I noticed that the presence of my wife and the nurse aided 
these manifestations considerably ; I even noticed that the 
appearance of either of them on the threshold of the room 
sufficed to provoke the phenomena. 

I tried to dissimulate the preoccupation these manifestations 
caused me, and I pretended to attach no importance to them, 
in order to react against the exaltation and fear which were 
taking hold of Madame Vergniat and the nurse, and of the 


two work- women, who were also constant witnesses of this 

But instead of aiding me in my eftorts, the Virgin no 
longer contented herself with simple evolutions on her pedestal. 
She began to let herself fall down on the eiderdown of my bed, 
and would remain buried there until a sharp sounding rap 
announced that she had returned to her pedestal. 

In a short time, the raps became more frequent, and did not 
always indicate displacements. We heard them on the doors, on 
the cupboards, etc., and even in the middle of the garden. 

Thus on returning home one day, such a formidable rap 
resounded, that the neighbours ran to their windows, and called 
out to me: 'Well, M. Vergniat, one would think you were 
being saluted.' 

These facts, already so extraordinary, were to be succeeded by 
others more extraordinary still. 

The watchmaker, M. Ouvrard, who wound up our clocks 
every fortnight, having at one time taken up the study of 
somnambulism, thought he recognised in our nurse a subject 
who would be susceptible to magnetic influences, and proposed 
putting her to sleep. 

A few minutes sufficed to obtain the state of prostration and 
insensibility which characterises magnetic sleep. For the first 
few seances, Marie's replies were unintelligible, but she very soon 
began to express herself clearly and even with volubility. 

Considering the state of mind the manifestations of the 
statuette kept us in, it will be readily understood that the first 
question put to the somnambulist was, 'Do you see who it is 
who moves the Virgin about ? ' 

' I see him,' she replied, ' he is close to me on his knees, 
praying. It is a man dressed in a brown coat, holding a dark- 
covered book in his hand. I do not see his face. I only see a 
part of his moustache, for he is turning his back to me.' 

For several days her answers were always the same. But 
having insisted upon knowing the name of the man in prayer, 
the somnambulist at last replied, ' I am Madame's father.' 


However, this assertion was soon contradicted by a more 
explicit declaration. 

It was so easy to produce the magnetic sleep with Marie, 
that, once when she asked me to put her to sleep, I succeeded 
in doing so without having any other notions about such things 
than those I had gathered from our few seances ; but I found it 
impossible to awaken her, and was obliged to send for the 
watchmaker, hoping he would help me out of my dilemma. 
He arrived, but his efforts were in vain. 

The somnambulist made fun of us, and teased the watchmaker 
about his embonpoint. 

This fact is to be noted, for it contradicts the current belief 
that the subject obeys the will of the magnetiser : but what 
follows reveals a phenomenon of vastly different interest. 

Marie ceased to speak in her own name. A spirit having 
taken possession of her will, declared that all our efforts to 
awaken the somnambulist would be useless. 

*I am quite comfortable here,' said the spirit, 'and it pleases 
me to stay. But at four o'clock, I am wanted elsewhere ; the 
somnambulist will then awaken of her own accord. Have the 
patience to wait.' 

At the hour mentioned, at the exact moment, the somnam- 
bulist returned to her normal state. 

From that day forth the somnambulist remained constantly 
under the influence of the spirits who took possession of her 
during her sleep. Thus, as soon as she was asleep, the spirit 
sometimes said, ' I have only a ie.-w minutes to stay ' ; and when 
the time was up, Marie would awaken without any intervention. 

During these more or less lengthy conversations, the spirit 
took a fancy to calling me his son. His advice testified to a 
disposition of great benevolence, and was chiefly of a profoundly 
religious character. It is incontestable that, by an inexplicable 
phenomenon, Marie's faculties were replaced, during these 
communications, by a spirit whose superiority it was impossible 
not to recognise, a superiority revealed by the tone of the discus- 
sion and the choice of expressions. 


Pressing him one day for an explanation, I resolutely asked 
him, ' But who are you, then ? ' 

' I am he, you wanted to receive with a loaded gun, when I 
knocked at your door at one o'clock in the morning.' 

Remember the somnambulist was absolutely ignorant of this 
fact, as she was not in our service when the strange nocturnal 
visit occurred. 

As for the Virgin, she was not at a standstill all this time ; 
she continued to turn five or six times every day. 

The good advice of the spirit, the purity of his principles, most 
certainly interested me ; but I confess the statuette interested 
me more. Had I not a tangible, undeniable fact before me, 
just as stubborn as my reason tried to be ? Stamping my feet I 
repeated, ' And still she turns.' 

Ever on my guard, even in face of evidence, I gave myself 
the satisfaction of imprisoning the Virgin, but in such a way 
as to be able to verify her evolutions. 

I had a niche of wire made, covered with transparent gauze, 
and, sealing it to the wall, I securely shut up the statuette 

My work done, I left my room. At once a formidable rap 
resounded : I ran to the room, everything had disappeared, the 
pedestal alone was still in its place. The Virgin, thrown on 
to the bed, was found buried in the eiderdown, whilst the casing 
was at the side of the bed. 

My precautions having incurred displeasure, 1 took care not 
to renew them. When consulted on this, the next day, the 
somnambulist, or rather the spirit acting through her, said, ' Never 
touch the Virgin, leave her there ; otherwise she will be 
transferred,' adding, ' he who takes her away from her pedestal 
will know very well how to put her back again.' 

This recommendation was followed ; but one day the statuette 
disappeared. Madame Vergniat having quite got over her first 
fears, searched for it actively everywhere, and after having turned 
the house upside down in her quest, found it in a cupboard 
behind the children's bed. This cupboard, being dissimulated by 


tapestry, had never been used, and we did not even know of its 

How had the Virgin got into it ? 

The displacements became more and more frequent. For 
instance, the statuette took it into its head to change rooms, and 
the sitting-room became its favourite resort, but it never let a 
whole day pass without reappearing upon its pedestal. 

The doors opened and shut before it with the same sharp 
sound which followed each evolution. All this went on so 
rapidly that we were more surprised than inconvenienced. 

Under the influence of these phenomena, the ordinary sleep of 
the somnambulist became heavier. At night she was often 
heard speaking aloud. She awakened with difficulty, and having 
shaken off her torpor, she could not open her eyes. ' They feel 
as though they were glued down,' she used to say. But placing 
her fingers on Marie's eyelids, Madame Vergniat used to pray, 
and the difficulty would disappear. 

In her ordinary sleep, the conversation was not serious; it was 
more often commonplace, full of jesting, sometimes even of bad 
taste ; whereas in provoked sleep, we constantly found a serious 
spirit, professing the purest maxims, and giving advice full of 
sincere charity. 

I asked this mysterious spirit if it were true that he was 
Madame's father, as he had once declared himself to be. 

Here is his reply, I give it word for word : ' My son, I read 
in your mind (for you cannot hide your thoughts from me) that 
not having enough faith to attribute to God the happiness of the 
visit you receive in your house, you seek its explanation in absurd 
suppositions. Do not believe in spiritism^ yny son. 

' God, who is essentially good, could not permit your spirit- 
friends, after having gone through all the trials of earth, to be 
condemned to look on at the turpitudes and the sufferings of 
those who are dear to them. This is a torture which God did 
not wish to reserve for you. 

'Yes, a Spirit exists ; but He is alone, unique, and that Spirit 
is mine. It is He who breathes into all things, who animates 


all things j He who makes you act, walk, stop when you believe 
that your own will is all-powerful. 

'That Spirit, I repeat, is unique. It is the Master's.' 

Let us remark, en passant^ that this is the opinion of Mall- 
branche, who claims God to be the immediate Author of the 
union we admire between soul and body. 

' I see that you doubt my words,' added the spirit, '(for I have 
already told you that you cannot hide your thoughts or actions 
from me), and you are saying, "What presumption ! to suppose 
that I have deserved such a visit, and that the Divine Spirit has 
knocked at my door ! " 

' You prefer, therefore, my son, to doubt my words and to 
stand aloof from the truth. So be it ! but do not forget, what- 
ever your appreciation may be about me and the object of my 
visit, be assured that I am only able to visit your home in 
pursuance of a supreme will, and that all your efforts to drive 
me away, and even my desire to leave you before the accomplish- 
ment of my mission, would be equally useless. 

' Welcome me, therefore, as a kind father who comes to help 
his son to tread the painful path of life. I have never left you 
since you came into the world. We have gone through many 
worries together, we have borne many sorrows ; but better times 
are at hand, and I am able to reveal to you, my child, that from 
the moment I am able to make my voice heard, the blessing 
of the Master will assure you the repose of body, soul, and spirit. 

' No more worry for you, your father is here to shield you. 
But in exchange for the good which my mission is to bring you, 
I ask you to turn your thoughts to the Creator, and thank Him 
for the immense favour He has accorded you. For, learn that 
no man has ever before received such a Visitor in his home. 

' I desire you to attend divine service regularly, and to go to 

' I also desire you to help those people whose addresses and 
needs I will make known to you ; but as I am a protector, if I 
impose charges upon you, I will also procure you the means of 
providing for them.' 


Imagine what an influence these mysterious facts already 
exercised over me, when I say that I promised everything, and, 
like a submissive child, took the communion with fervour. 

From that day forth the benevolence of the unknown was 
extended over every one and every thing, from the household to 
the house needs. His solicitude, for the somnambulist especially, 
drove him sometimes to charge me with delicate missions, of 
which I will give an example. 

I had once just put Marie to sleep, when the spirit manifested 
itself, saying : — 

' I am going to speak to you about some of the private affairs 
of the somnambulist, and I beg you to follow my instructions. 

' This girl thinks of marrying a carpenter, named Toussaint, 
who has been following her about for a long time. But Marie's 
parents, who are honest folk, will never consent to this marriage. 
First of all, because Toussaint is a worthless fellow, and in the 
second place, because Toussaint's brother was condemned yester- 
day to pay an ignominious penalty for a foul crime he has 

'Therefore, Marie must cease to know this young man; 
moreover, his jealous and violent character might soon endanger 
her life. 

' Marie is ignorant of these details. Therefore, when she 
awakens, take care not to repeat our conversation ; but to- 
morrow, when returning from Bordeaux, tell her about this as 
though it were some news you had heard of in town. 

'Marie will deny everything, first of all; she will pretend 
not to know the individual ; but insist upon it, and she will con- 
fess everything.' 

And this, in fact, is what happened. 

The spirit went on to say : — 

' This workman has recently wounded his hand, and is con- 
sequently debarred from working ; he is always prowling 
about the house, and I advise you to be on your guard against 

Marie often used to ask me to put her to sleep in the evening. 


Then, strange to sav, she would tell us when and how many 
times this man Toussaint would pass the door, the next day. 

This information was always correct. However, one day, 
our man did not turn up at the given time — he was two minutes 
late. Marie was asleep in the sitting-room, and I went back- 
wards and forwards from her to the terrace. I was nearly 
losing patience, when she cried out, ' He is coming — you will 
barely have time to get to the terrace.' And so it was ; as 
soon as I reached my post of observation, the carpenter came 
into the Rue Malbec out of the Rue Begles. 

A few days afterwards, the spirit, whom the somnambulist 
called ' Grand Father,' warned us that Marie ran a great risk. 
Toussaint having had the door shown to him everywhere 
because of the disgrace which had fallen upon his family, had 
made up his mind to avenge himself. 

Animated with the worst designs, he had shaved off his beard 
in order to make himself unrecognisable ; and hiding a large 
knife under his coat, he was bending his way to the house, with 
the fixed purpose, said the spirit, of striking Marie. 

When giving us this information through the somnambulist, 
our mysterious friend added : ' Do not allow this girl to go out 
to-day. I will deliver you from this dangerous man very soon, 
by making him wish to go on a long voyage, from which he 
will never return.' 

Two or three days afterwards, Marie heard that this indi- 
vidual had left for Algeria. 

First of all we have seen, by the substitution of the spirit to 
the faculties of the somnambulist, how our free-will is subordi- 
nated to occult influences. And if the objection be made that 
in that case, magnetic influences facilitated this substitution 
there still remains the case of the carpenter, whose free-will was 
absolutely subjugated after premeditation, as is shown by the 
spirit's declaration that he would ' make him wish to take a long 
voyage from which the individual would never return.' 

In proportion as these strange facts succeeded each other, 
we yielded further and further to an influence from which it 


was impossible to escape — I may even say we were happy to 

How could we thrust aside advice which was always 
thoroughly honest, and with which the name of God was 
constantly associated ? 

After the somnambulist, Madame Vergniat was the one who 
felt the effects of this mysterious atmosphere the most strongly. 

For my part, I had, at first, confined myself simply to observ- 
ing the phenomena, to accepting them only as a study ; but 
under the influence of surprise upon surprise, filled with 
admiration, I ended in blind submission. And yet, we were 
only at the beginning of our marvellous manifestations. 

Often, during a meal, if we had need of something or other, 
Marie would bring it to us before we asked for it. A voice, 
which she thought was at times mine, at times Madame 
Vergniat's, transmitted our desire to her before it was expressed. 
It was a splendid case of thought transference. 

If the maid's work was not quite properly done, he who 
watched over the house so assiduously, punished her immediately^ 
by removing with remarkable dexterity the foulard she wore on 
her head. And if she ever happened to be wanting in politeness 
towards us, she was instantly called to order in the same way, 
without any consideration for the place or circumstances she 
might be in at the moment. I have often seen her foulard 
thrown on the ground, to remind her that she should allow us 
to pass before her into a carriage, omnibus, etc. 

I have also had occasion to witness a very surprising mani- 
festation, surprising because of the facility shown for displacing 
a piece of furniture the weight of which was relatively con- 

Often, after retiring to rest, the somnambulist would feel her 
bed gently rolled into the centre of the floor, and then back 
again to its place. This to-and-fro movement used to be 
repeated as often as three or four times in the same evening ; 
the movement was slow, we could see distinctly that great mass 
moving about under the impulsion of some invisible force. 


The somnambulist, as I said in the beginning, was a big, 
stout girl from the Pyrenees. She could neither read nor write, 
and the sight of all these supernatural things astounded and 
alarmed her. I have remarked that, in her normal state, she 
often forgot what she had seen the previous day. But what she 
really did understand was that ' Grand Father ' was not satisfied 
with her when a crust of bread or some cheese was thrown at her 
head ; this was a sure sign that there was a hitch somewhere. 

In the vestibule, which we used as a dining-room, a small 
Louis XV. lustre was suspended ; it often swayed about when we 
sat down to meals, and the movement, which was always pre- 
ceded by a rustling on the metal chains, was slow or accelerated 
according to my wife's expressed or unexpressed wish. 

If we had visitors, everything was so quiet that no one would 
ever have suspected what strange things happened to us habit- 
ually. It looked as though these manifestations were reserved 
for the inmates of the house and for a few privileged guests, 
whose attention was, perforce, aroused by the noise. 

Two young girls, one Anna , from Perigord, the other 

Mathilde , from Bordeaux, who worked almost constantly 

in our house, were present at most of these occurrences, and 
* Grand Father' even testified much affection for these girls. 

In the beginning, I said that when the statuette turned on its 
pedestal, the swords had moved about in the contrary direction. 
One of them was unhooked and deposited in a corner of the 
wall, but in the presence of Madame Vergniat an invisible force 
almost immediately put it slowly back again in its place. 

The oscillations of the lustre, the movements of the swords, 
the displacements of the bed were the only phenomena which 
the eye was able to follow ; all the others were so rapid that 
they escaped even the most vigilant attention. 

Our presence in the house was not necessary to produce noises 
and other phenomena. The fact which I am going to relate 
contradicts the opinion emitted by some spiritists, that spirits 
borrow the force which is indispensable to produce these dis- 
placements from the mediums or assistants. 

2 E 


We once went to spend a day in the country, talcing the 
nurse with us, and leaving the house empty for the day. 
Returning in the evening, the neighbours came out to meet us 
saying that they feared all our crockery was broken, because 
ever since our departure a dreadful noise had reigned in the 
house. We searched all the rooms, but no damage had been 
done, and everything was in its place. 

Where, therefore, in that empty house had the spirit taken 
the auxiliary force which we are told is necessary for its 
manifestations ? 

I was very reserved respecting these facts. I did not care to 
noise them abroad, for had I done so controversy would certainly 
have arisen. 

Another reason for remaining silent was, that once after having 
spoken of these events to the member of a reputedly religious 
family, the Virgin refused to make any evolution before this 
visitor. But scarcely was the incredulous person out of the 
house when the statuette was displaced. 

The same evening I put Marie to sleep, and reproached the 
spirit severely. 

'What happens here is for you alone,' he replied, 'and ought 
not to be exhibited as a spectacle."' 

However, this apparently severe admonition was soon infringed 
upon by himself under the following circumstances : — 

M. Bossuet, a hairdresser in the Rue Bouffard, at Bordeaux, 
was dressing Madame Vergniat's hair in the sitting-room : my 
wife heard the sharp rap which usually announced a displacement 
of the Virgin. She got up, and without saying anything went 
into the room, followed instinctively by M. Bossuet. The 
Virgin was balancing herself on the edge of the bracket. 
M. Bossuet, quickly understanding what was happening, cried 
out in admiration, ^Mon Dieu ! how glad I am to have seen 
such a thing ! ' 

M. Bossuet is dead now ; who can say whether he has found 
the solution of the problem which engages us ? 

I took advantage of this incident to ask why the Virgin had 



moved during M. Bossuet's visit, since it was told me that these 
favours were exclusively reserved for the household. 

'I choose my company,' replied the spirit, *and I had to 
reward M. Bossuet for having patiently reproduced the features 
of Christ in some hair.' 

I do not know if it be true — though many have since assured 
me it is true — that M. Bossuet was the author of such a work. 
I confine myself, as a faithful reporter, to recording the reply 
which was given me. 

Our house had one inconvenience — a very disagreeable one in 
winter — that of obliging the maid to cross the garden in order 
to open the gate for the milkman, who rang every morning at 

We were looking for a combination which might enable us 
to avoid this inconvenience, when our kind protector came to 
our aid. 

This fact is one of the most curious of our long series of 
surprising adventures. 

Henceforth, when the milkman's cart stopped at the gate and 
before he rang, a mysterious power shot back the bolt in the 
lock. Then the gate opened, and the milkman placed on the 
window-sill the jug of milk, which the domestic took in later on. 

Perhaps the milkman thought a special mechanism allowed us 
to open the door. However that may be, his imagination was 
evidently at work, for he was heard to say aloud, when getting 
into his cart, 'All the same, this is a very queer house.' 

Sometimes, after having attended vespers either at Sainte-Croix 
or at the Vieillards, we used to take a long walk, and often we 
returned home tired and impatient to sit down and rest a while. 

So that we might not have to wait, an invisible hand used to 
knock at the door before we arrived there. 

This fact could not be hidden, and our neighbour, Madame 
Pardeau, in a good position for observation, laughed at the 
attentions shown us. 

At about this time there was a strange substitution, one which 
would, henceforth, render the intervention of the somnambulist 


unnecessary. Madame Vergniat and I were returning home 
after visiting Talence. On the way, my wife turned round 
quickly, saying: 'Some one has just called me : twice I heard 
a voice say, " Heloise ! Heloise ! " ' 

From that day forth, Madame Vergniat asked questions 
mentally and a foreign voice answered them. 

Very soon the voice took the initiative of conversations, and 
absorbing Madame Vergniat's faculties, spoke through her. 

There was no being deceived ; it was easy to recognise the 
same benevolent spirit, which had only changed his dwelling- 
place, as it were. 

The first recommendation given through Madame Vergniat 
was to cease putting Marie to sleep. ' Henceforth you will not 
be able to do so, without incurring much unpleasantness.' 

But my keen desire to see and to observe everything was so 
great, that it got the better of this last advice, and I put the 
somnambulist to sleep as usual. Ill came of it. To the charit- 
able and benevolent discourses succeeded a dishevelled language, 
which I thought I could put an end to by awakening the som- 
nambulist ; but it was impossible to do so. 

She walked about the room with her eyes closed, crying out : 
'I will wake up when it suits me to do so. I am here, and I 
want to stay just because my staying annoys you.' Then she 
tried to go out to walk about in the garden, and I was obliged 
to lock the door. 

This scene, which lasted for several hours, took away my wish 
for further experimentation with Marie. 

From that time, Marie was subjected to several ill-defined 
influences during her ordinary sleep ; she spoke aloud, sometimes 
she used serious language ; sometimes she seemed to be filled 
with mad joy. The former depth and goodness in advice given 
through her had disappeared. 

Moreover, I was amply compensated by the new situation 
which rendered the somnambulist's intervention unnecessary, 
and I thought no further of risking the disagreeable scene of 
which I have spoken. I may even say that all magnetic 


attempts and experiments with Marie ended here. There was 
no further question of them. 

Sometimes the spirit when consulted did not answer. Madame 
Vergniat would then say, * I speak to him, but he does not reply.' 
But he never kept us waiting very long. 

The spirit often announced his departure. ' If you have 
something to ask me, or to tell me,' he would say, ' be quick, 
because I am obliged to go away, and will only be able to 
return to-morrow at such and such a time.' 

And, until the time indicated had arrived, all questioning was 
useless. There were no replies. 

Hundreds of times I had had occasion of verifying the exact- 
ness of information furnished by means of Marie ; but it re- 
mained to me to find out if the information given by the new 
channel had the same value. 

I had not long to wait before attaining certitude in that 

It was on a winter's evening, the night was pitch dark, it 
was pouring in torrents. Returning home from business, the 
maid came to tell me that a small Havanese dog, which a 
neighbour had kindly given us, had gone astray. As I said, the 
weather was fearful, and we could not think of going out to 
search for the tiny animal. But, as I appeared to be troubled 
about the matter, Madame Vergniat, who so far had said nothing, 
raised her head, and addressing me in the peculiar way which 
announced an official communication, said, ' So you were really 
attached to that little animal ! Very well ! do not be sad, you 
will find it again. I see it ; a workman is holding it under his 
jacket in a hairdresser's establishment in the Rue Begles (the 
little hunchback).' 

The information was precise ; given by the somnambulist, I 
would not have hesitated believing it ; but I now needed further 
proof; therefore, in spite of the weather, I went out in search 
of the dog. My quest having led me to the hairdresser's, I 
looked timidly in at the window, when the hunchback perceived 
me, and called out : ' Do you want something, M. Vergniat ? ' 


I replied, * If you should happen to hear that a small Havanese 
dog has been found, be kind enough to let me know.' 

A workman, who was in the shop, said : ' Five minutes ago I 
held it in my jacket trying to warm it. I had picked it up 
sopping wet, in a corner of the street, where I dropped it again.' 

Some few steps further ofF, I observed a white spot in the 
darkness. It was Fleurette crouching down in the shelter of 
a doorway. 

I returned home triumphantly, carrying the children's happi- 
ness with me, as well as the confirmation of the infallibility of 
our protector. The influence of this power, which revealed 
itself as unlimited, will be easily understood. Always gaining 
fresh ground by new supernatural phenomena, its will entirely 
superseded ours. What in the beginning it formulated as a 
desire, soon became an order. It paid attention to the smallest 
details ; designated the necessary provisions for the day and 
fixed the prices thereof. If a more important purchase than 
usual had to be made, he indicated the shop and price 

These facts gave rise to some curious incidents. Thus, for 
example, when a shopkeeper charged too high a price. ' Grand 
Father,' always at hand, used to whisper to Madame Vergniat, 
'Tell that woman her goods only cost her such and such a 
price. Offer her so much. That is sufficient profit. . . .' 

The shopkeeper, dumfounded, could not deny, and the bargain 
would be concluded. 

I reveal all these facts without hesitation, persuaded that the 
study of such persistent and varied manifestations may help to 
lift the mysterious veil surrounding us. Moreover, why should 
I hesitate or keep silent ? Have I not seen ? The more incom- 
prehensible the facts maybe, the greater the duty to reveal them. 

I will, perhaps, be accused of weakness by showing so much 
submission to this occult power, which, however, only put forth 
the claim of coming from God, and expressed none but honour- 
able sentiments. To my accusers, I will reply, ' Go through the 
same trial, then I will recognise your right to criticise.* 


As for weakness, this was never one of my failings, unless I 
should make an exception for the sentiment, which makes me 
bow before the Master — a sentiment I mean to preserve. 

I said mv wife and I went regularly to vespers, sometimes at 
Talence, sometimes at Sainte-Croix ; but more often at the 

I remember that once when gazing upon these latter poor 
creatures, ever at the mercy of public charity, our mysterious 
guest confided to us : * Without my visit, my children, that 
fate might have been yours.' 

In the beginning, I said I had promised to take the com- 
munion ; I did so with fervour, so profoundly had these 
mysterious facts impressed me ; I carried submission to the 
extent of giving up theatres, and all amusements, obeying the 
express desire of the unknown. 

To make up for this, I was permitted to join every pil- 

One morning, as I was starting for my office, Madame 
Vergniat, with an inspired air, dictated the following order to 
me : ' You must send a telegram to Paris this morning, bidding 
the agents to sell out 6000 francs worth of French stock at 
3 per cent., and buy in 10,000 francs of Italian stock.' He 
added : ' Did I not tell you, that when it would please me to 
impose an obligation upon you, it would never be at your own 
expense ? Now, I have need of a few thousand francs, the use 
of which I will point ovit to you when the time comes.' 

In spite of the strange things I had already seen, I was 
bewildered. Madame Vergniat, although the wife of a stock- 
broker, had never interested herself in business affairs, and was 
absolutely ignorant of financial combinations. 

The terms used to dictate the transaction, indicated that the 
operation was planned by a mind accustomed to this kind of 

As the advice was not dangerous, and, in case of failure, 
would not carry me very far, I telegraphed to Paris without 
hesitating. Before I returned home in the evening, I had the 


reply, and wished to communicate it to my mysterious client. 
' Useless,' he said to me, ' I know it.' 

I took advantage of this circumstance of talking business with 
him, with the object of finding out just how far the spirit's 
knowledge, in matters of speculation, went. 

* Do you know,' I said to him, ' that your transaction is 
founded on two liquidations. The Italian stock is in liquidation 
for the 15th inst., and the 3 per cent, for the end of the month.' 

' I did it purposely. The Italian will be liquidated first, for 
the profits thereof are urgently required. Whoever procures 
the French stock for the end of the month is destined to offer a 
present to his daughter. I will give you a few instructions on 
this subject.' 

I risked the question : ' You then believe in the rise of the 
Italian and fall of the French stock ? ' 

' Your Father is not one who doubts, who believes, or who 
only hopes ; He is always sure, because He is the Master.' 

From the day the exchange transaction was made, the two 
contrary movements, favourable to the arbitration, were not 
belied ; and (an important fact to take note of) every morning, 
with mathematical precision, the unknown predicted the stock- 
list which the telegraph only brought at four o'clock in the 

I wish to insist upon this fact, because some people seem to 
question the spirits' possibility of foretelling the future. 

Always preoccupied in studying these facts, I sometimes 
asked, the evening before, what the rate would be the following 
day. ' I cannot tell you before to-morrow morning. I have 
need of the night to gather my information.' 

One day, there was a difference of a farthing between the 
rate predicted in the morning, and the official rate received at 
four o'clock. When I made the remark, the unknown said to 
me ; ' It was a bad head who rang down the changes at the 
stroke of the bell.' The spirit evidently even possessed the 
slang of the stockbrokers' ring. 

Seeing so much penetration, I meekly asked if he could be 


useful to me in my own business. He replied : ' I did not come 
for that ; my visit has another object in view ; nevertheless I 
think I can be useful to you, and when the opportunity occurs, 
I will not forget.' 

This declaration seemed to contradict the first one. At the 
outset of these manifestations, the 'Master's' blessing assured 
the repose of body, soul, and spirit : ' No more worries for you : 
your Father is here to turn them all aside.' There was now a 
slight deviation which we cannot help observing. 

Let us, however, return to this power of penetration ; it was 
such, that, consulted upon the state of my cash-box, he at once 
told me how much it contained. For him, it was mere child's 
play to tell any one the contents of their purse. 

During the arbitration process, I sometimes asked him, 
' What profit does your stock operation give you this evening ? ' 
He mentioned it at once, and, without omitting a farthing, he 
even counted brokerage and the price of telegrams. 

'Your business afi^airs,' said he, 'should no longer trouble you, 
for they are mine. I will look after them : you have only to 
obey, and to satisfy me in order to be rewarded. 

'You may be sure that nothing would be easier for me than 
to load you with riches any day ; and, if I make you wait, it is 
because you made me wait a long time before I was able to 
bring you to me.' 

This is another remark which is not any clearer than the one 
I quoted a little while ago. 

Whilst the arbitration was proceeding favourably, the Virgin 
continued her evolutions ; however, they were soon to cease. 

One afternoon she made some evolutions noisier than usual, 
and going out of the house, went and placed herself upon some 
grape-vines in the garden. 

At that moment, one of our former servants, a girl named 
Caroline T. . . ., the same who was in our service when the 
nocturnal visit occurred, happened to come up to the house ; 
seeing the statue in the garden, she and another servant decided 
to put it back again on its pedestal. 


It was scarcely replaced when a violent rap resounded, and 
the Virgin fell on the ground broken to pieces. 

Great was Madame Vergniat's grief when she heard of the 
accident. I must own that I, too, was vexed. The debris 
were gathered up and preserved with veneration for a long time. 

But the pedestal remained vacant. Then the thought came 
to me of asking our protector if it would be possible to find a 
similar statuette. 

'I will see about it to-night,' he replied. The spirit often 
begged me to leave him the night for reflection. He said it 
was then that he found the necessary information. 

The next day, faithful to his promise, he gave me the follow- 
ing information : 'There is, in Bordeaux, a Virgin like the one 
which is broken. You will find it at a sculptor's in the Rue 
Bouquiere (a small shop situated in a corner of the street). 
There is only that one specimen, and the tradesman has no 

I quickly took one of the fragments, and went to the Rue 
Bouquiere. I found the shop, and the tradesman told me he had 
a Virgin similar to the one I desired, but that he had no cast of 
it. '1 will look for it, and you may come and fetch it this 
evening.' The same evening I returned to Malbec with the 
statuette which was going to stifle all regrets. 

My arrival with the statuette was the occasion for another 
official communication : ' My son, that Virgin will be displaced. 
I will not tell you where I shall carry it to ; she herself will 
reveal it to you. Now, as she will go very far away, you must 
put your name and address inside the statuette.' This was done. 

Placed upon the pedestal, the new Virgin turned round three 
times the day after her arrival ; since that day she never stirred. 

I do not know if she will ever go on this journey ; in any 
case, she is a long time making her preparations. 

All the incidents touching the statuette end here : the circum- 
stances of the annee terrible caused it to pass into other hands. 

We said that the stock transaction was going on better and 
better. And with his facility to foretell the future, the unknown 


sold out the Italian stock at the highest rate, whilst he waited 
for several days to buy back his 3 per cent, favourably. 

All this was done with astounding precision ; with a power 
equal to his, fortune was simply without bounds. 

The profits of these two transactions amounted to about 
three thousand francs. With the funds resulting from the 
liquidation of the 15th I was given the mission to reserve one 
thousand francs for the father of a large family. And the 
souvenir of this good action, for which, in a way, 1 was but an 
agent, rejoices me still. 

Other less important distributions were ordered to be made. 

Finally, to crown everything, we were told to illuminate our 
garden in honour of the Virgin. 

The profits of the second liquidation followed afterwards, and 
gave rise to a curious incident. 

On pay-day, when the profits were at the disposition of the 
mysterious spirit, he begged me to return to Bordeaux to buy a 
piano, which he offered to my daughter. (This was the ' present ' 
which had been spoken of in the beginning of these bourse 

' Go,' he said, ' to M. Caudere's, Allees de Tourny, No. 50, 
where you will buy a second-hand piano ; you will be asked six 
hundred and fifty francs for it.' 

Upon making the remark that I needed precise indications in 
order to avoid all confusion, he replied : * It is not necessary. I 
will be there to see that they offer you the piano I want. You 
will not be obliged to bargain, for the price is less than the value 
of the instrument.' 

How could I resist the commands of such a kind-hearted 
friend, whose power seemed to have no other limit than that of 
his will ? 

Moreover, was it my province to discuss the manner of 
employing money which did not belong to me ? 

Therefore I arrived at Allees de Tourny. Madame Caudere 
was alone in the shop. I followed my instructions, and was offered 
a second-hand piano for six hundred francs. It was fifty francs 


below the stated price. I hesitated taking it, but, remembering 
his own words, ' / will be there^ I concluded the bargain on the 
express condition that the instrument might be delivered the 
same evening, according to our benefactor's will. 

I arrived home quickly, impatient to have an explanation 
concerning the fifty francs. 

It was the first time I had observed an irregularity, and as my 
submission was only the result of an infallibility which, until 
then, had never been belied, the absolute and regular continua- 
tion of these facts was required in order to keep up that blind 
confidence which already impaired so seriously my free will. 

It was with almost a triumphant air I announced that the 
piano had only cost six hundred francs. 

' I know it,' said the unknown ; ' but Madame made a mistake.' 

On the morrow, when settling the account, the shopkeeper 
said to me : ' You got a bargain yesterday ; my wife made a 
mistake in selling you for six hundred francs a piano I had fixed 
at six hundred and fifty.' 

Absorbed in these supernatural incidents, I did not think of 
replying. I walked slowly home wrapped in thought. I related 
to the mysterious being what had happened to me at the piano- 

If my mystical preoccupations had made me forget my duty 
for an instant, he was not long in recalling it to me. 

' I apprised you of it,' he answered. I understood, and brought 
back the fifty francs to the tradesman, not caring to benefit by 
a mistake. 

At that time my daughter's musical knowledge was limited to 
the ' Bon Rot Dagohert^ and yet, when she sat down to the piano, 
her fingers, yielding to some mysterious influence, moved in- 
voluntarily over the piano, and played unknown airs whose 
accompaniments were in accordance with all the rules of 

Convinced that the child was playing from memory, the 
pianoforte-tuner complimented her upon her musical dispositions. 

This phenomenon was only produced three or four times ; it 


is true, I always took care to take the child away from the piano 
as soon as I suspected the approach of the influence. 

The stock transaction accomplished, other business, patronised 
and advised by the protector, succeeded as well as the first. The 
object was always charity. These operations were not important ; 
but for all that, their results increased the importance of the 
help every day. 

The spirit had reserved to himself the right of designating the 
persons he wished to help. Sometimes he indicated the name, 
but more often he confined himself to mentioning the street, 
the number, and flat. 

I remember one Sunday, while breakfasting, I was suddenly 
told to go immediately and visit a family living in a tiny house 
behind the Rue Fran^ois-de-Sourdis. It was a long way off, 
and notwithstanding the indications given me, I went up and 
down several streets in that quarter of the town in vain, and I 
returned without having been able to fulfil my mission. 

'You must go back again,' said the unknown, 'and before 
breakfasting ; for you yourself can wait ; but it is not the same 
there, where the children are hungry . . . ! ' 

Every morning, when leaving home to go to my office, I was 
commissioned to do a good work. ' In such and such a street, 
at such and such a number and flat, at the door to the right, etc., 
lives a widow ; you will give her five francs, or ten francs, and 
so forth. . . .' 

In the beginning, fearing to be led astray, these missions 
made me feel rather uncomfortable, especially when he sent me 
to places where there was no apparent misery ; but he never 
made a mistake. 

To provide for these distributions, and carry out certain 
religious projects, which he acknowledged to me — such, for 
example, as the erection of a chapel on the ground of ' Malbec,' 
in order to perpetuate the memory of his visit — to provide, I 
say, for so much expense, he considerably increased the figure 
of his operations. 

It is true that an affair undertaken by his order always the 


same evening gave good results. And it w^as necessary it should 
be rigorously so, if he w^ished to maintain the blind confidence 
he seemed so desirous of preserving. 

It was then that he changed his tactics. Instead of talcing 
his profits at each liquidation, he now opposed himself to any 
realisation whatsoever. 

In the face of such a dangerous system, I timidly risked some 
remarks : — 

' No one could guide me better than you do, and I would be 
already too rich if, as before, you took advantage of every fluctua- 
tion of the market, instead of opposing yourself to the realisation 
of the profits. It is true there is a large margin on your pur- 
chases, but our prosperity is only artificial, since it is but the 
result of recharges and not of liquidated operations. That is to 
say, by this system we are constantly laying ourselves open to 

It was also under this mysterious inspiration that I then took 
an engagement to buy out the interest of my sleeping partners. 

Always under the same guidance, our business affairs rapidly 
created an opulent position for me. The upward movement of 
stocks continued, and if at times a slight reaction arose, it could 
only touch a small part of the profits already acquired, and con- 
stantly carried over. 

The dangerous system of non-realisation, we see, had not 
been abandoned. 

I often complained. 

It was thus that on the ist January 1870 (a Sunday, I think), 
the Coulisse having quoted on the boulevards 75*05 francs, and 
this rate assuring us a profit of 30,000 francs on one affair alone, 
I implored him to consent to realising. He refused energetically, 
saying, ' Money-jobbing does not suit me, I have put you in a 
position which will be your last affair.' Moreover, he affected 
a great dislike to my profession, saying he desired to see me 
leave it as speedily as possible. 

Sometimes the spirit dropped certain exclamations, aside, as it 
were, the most frequent of which was, ' What a struggle I * 


I paid no attention to this, and it was only after the tragic 
denouement of this affair that the souvenir of these exclamations, 
although so frequently repeated, came back to my memory. 

The circumstances which follow sadly demonstrate that during 
two and a half years the aim, so patiently followed, was simply 
to bribe my confidence with strange revelations, and to keep me 
under his thumb. 

This result obtained, he had only to use influence in order to 
keep me in a position whose importance could not help being 
fatal, in view of coming events, and which the unknown's power 
of penetration permitted him to foresee. 

It was in the midst of all this, in a way, borrowed prosperity, 
since it only resulted from non-realised operations, that I took 
possession of my new residence. Rue d'Enghien, No. ii. 

For several months, although it was impossible for stock to 
rise above seventy-five francs, faithful to his system, the unknown 
refused to sell out. 

It was therefore necessary to continue. But could I com- 
plain if funds reinained stationary ? The profits entered into 
cash as a consequence of the rise of stocks, which seemed a suffi- 
cient guarantee against any event whatsoever. 

Moreover, it seemed to me mean to reproach him with not 
giving me more, when I owed him already such unhoped-for 

My tranquillity was, therefore, absolute when complications 
with Germany broke out. Then, from the first day, I wished 
to liquidate. 

' There, are your fears beginning again as at the time of the 
Luxembourg incident ? Believe him who is the Master, and 
who for nearly three years has never deceived you.' 

Notwithstanding his affirmations, two days afterwards war 
was decided, and in taking possession of the telegraph lines, the 
light-hearted minister put the finishing-stroke to my ruin, for it 
placed me in the impossibility of communicating, and therefore 
of limiting my loss. 

Whatever may be the danger of a struggle, we succumb with 


less regret when we have fought on equal terms ; but here, 
without speaking of the strange circumstances, the suppression 
of telegraphic communication placed me in the position of a 
man bound hand and foot, who is thrown into the sea and 
reproached for not swimming. 

In this critical moment, the unknown was absolutely dumb. 
He answered none of the questions I asked him. And yet the 
situation was most critical ; for twenty years of labour dis- 
appeared into the gulf, and, moreover, to this material loss was 
added the grief of being forced to remain separated from my 
daughter, who was dangerously ill. 

A last explanation took place: 'There, then,' I said to him, 
' here is what you have brought me to, and I do not know who 
you are ; I only know that you have appealed to honourable 
sentiments, in order to make me your dupe, and that you have 
not hesitated using the name of God when laying your snares.' 

I was too irritated to heed his reply ; and I have only a vague 
souvenir of the word ' trials ' faltered out in answer to my 

Thus ends this long and sad 'story.' 

I have given this curious self-observation in extenso. The 
personification is liable to errors which may be dangerous if we 
abandon ourselves to its direction, as too many people are 
tempted to do. 

The extraordinary facts with which Madame Vergniat's life 
was filled are not confined to those just related ; she appears to 
have possessed supernormal faculties right up to the last. It might 
be of considerable interest if her family would give a detailed 
account of her life. 

PrinteH by T, and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press 


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